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Every third Pole suffers from chronic diseases, and 36% is under regular supervision of doctors. On average, a family doctor has more than three thousand visits each year. Over 300 million consultations are held in specialist clinics every year. Currently, due to the epidemic, patients have limited access to medical care. The National Health Fund has recommended to all clinics with which it has signed agreements to minimize or temporarily suspend planned treatment. This also applies to planned hospital stays - diagnostic tests, treatment and surgery, and therapeutic rehabilitation.

Limitations also apply to psychiatric treatment, addiction treatment, dental treatment, specialist advice, such as computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, PET, gastroscopy, colonoscopy, ultrasound.

The Fund also recommends the suspension of planned preventive vaccinations.

General practitioners

The clinics can remain open, but the NFZ has recommended that they should give advice over the phone whenever possible. During the teleconsultation, the doctor may issue an e-prescription, e-sick leave, as well as an electronic order for medical devices (the patient, after positive verification of the order, will receive information about the order number generated by the e-ZWM system by phone, e-mail or SMS).  If necessary, on the basis of a referral, laboratory tests of blood and urine are performed. Currently, these tests are not ordered for prophylactic purposes. Not every consultation can be carried out over the phone or on Skype, because the patient may need a physical examination. If it is an urgent case and there is a threat to the patient's life, the clinic is obliged to accept it. If it doesn't, you can report your refusal to the ombudsman by calling 800 190 590 or by writing to kancelaria@rpp.gov.pl.

Specialists

Specialist clinics also limit admissions, but each on a different basis. The details are best checked, if possible, on the clinic's website. Some of them give advice only by phone, others allow visits only after prior arrangement by phone and indication of a specific time of arrival. In many centres examinations are postponed - only necessary and urgent ones are performed. Some clinics offer new appointments for examinations, although no one knows when the situation will return to normal so that they can be resumed.

Hospital treatment

According to the NFZ recommendation, many hospitals have suspended planned admissions and provide life-saving assistance only. In the case of planned treatments, doctors, on the basis of medical documentation, assess which treatments they are postponing and who will have their surgery according to the original schedule. Hospital employees inform patients about new dates by phone. From the beginning of May, hospitals resume work in some wards and outpatient clinics, but still not all of them. Some wards have been shut down because of coronavirus contamination or because they have been converted into infectious wards.

The current list of suspended hospitals and wards is published on their websites by the NFZ regional offices.

Physiotherapy and rehabilitation

From May 4 you can use the services of physiotherapists. Daily rehabilitation wards, rehabilitation clinics and hospital rehabilitation wards are open, there are also private offices. Rehabilitation is obliged to take place with full respect of the safety procedures to prevent infections. Recommendations in this matter were prepared by the National Chamber of Physiotherapists. NOTE: until further notice, the original referral does not have to be delivered not later than 14 working days from the date of being entered on the waiting list for the benefit. The patient shall provide the service provider with the original referral within 21 days from the day of cancelling the epidemic state, however, not later than on the day of providing the health care service performed on the basis of this referral.

Dialysis stations

Dialysis is a life-saving procedure. Additional hygienic requirements have been introduced in dialysis stations, but patients are allowed to use them just like before the epidemic.

Dentistry

Dental clinics, which have signed agreements with the National Health Fund, are asked to cancel scheduled visits - conservative treatment, surgical procedures. Dental clinics are allowed to have appointments for patients with acute pain. There are also telephone consultations with a dentist.

Private clinics

While private clinics provide most of their services over the phone, some are already available on site. Medicover has restored occupational medicine examinations for employers and employees who want to take them (regulations allow for their postponement due to the pandemic). Dental centres are open. Care is provided for pregnant women. Patients who need to consult a general practitioner or a specialist are advised to use the phone consultation service. If tests have been ordered, patients are encouraged to contact the doctor who issued the referral by e-mail to ask him if the test can be done later. Home visits are only allowed in case of life-threatening conditions or serious illnesses not related to coronavirus infection. Lux Med recommends patients to replace their visit at the facility with telephone advice. This applies to most medical specialists.

However, the decision is up to the patient. If he thinks he needs personal advice, the visit takes place.

Specialist examinations are performed after prior phone consultation with a doctor.

***

Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about the coronovirus pandemic for you.

They are on the front lines in 25 Polish cities. They work on the ground, reporting from hospitals and airports.

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