[Primary Healthcare Reform in Portugal on two fronts: autonomous family healthcare units and management of groupings of Health Centers]

Cien Saude Colet. 2011 Jun;16(6):2841-52. doi: 10.1590/s1413-81232011000600022.
[Article in Portuguese]


In 2005, Portugal began a reform of Primary Health Care. This reform process through to April 2010 is described and analyzed. During this period the Mission for Primary Health Care was responsible for conducting a profound reconfiguration. The main objectives for this reform were to improve accessibility, efficiency, quality and continuity of care and increase the satisfaction of professionals and citizens. The main features are voluntary adhesion, teamwork, mandatory information system, performance-sensitive payment, contracting and evaluation. The reconfiguration of health centers was two pronged. First, there was the formation of small autonomous functional units, known as Family Health Units (USF) providing services with proximity and quality. The second measure involved the aggregation of resources and management structures, groups of health centers (ACES), seeking to achieve efficiency and economies of scale. The FHU proved to offer simultaneously more efficiency, accessibility, better working environment, greater citizen satisfaction, namely better quality. The importance of strong political support, the creation of a structure responsible for the design and implementation of reform and good liaison with the media are stressed.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Health Care Reform / organization & administration*
  • Portugal
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*