From normative aspects to the reality of the Unified Health System: revealing barriers that curtail access to the health care network

This article analyzes the conditions of comprehensive access to health care in Recife in the state of Pernambuco based on the trajectory experienced by users from primary health services through to specialist care. Quantitative and qualitative approaches were combined with triangulation of methods as the research technique. Systemic Arterial Hypertension was chosen as a core condition, as it is an ailment that requires attention at various levels of the city's health network. The research revealed various barriers of access in primary health care becoming more accentuated at other levels of care resulting in delays in timely care and consequently prolonging the suffering of the population. Structural problems such as a shortage of medical professionals in primary care, insufficient access to specialized consultations and exams, together with the inherent dynamics of the health services, are real obstacles that the user faces in the quest for continuous and comprehensive care in the Unified Health System (SUS). In addition to broadening and enhancing the availability of services, especially complementary exams, it is necessary to ensure communication between the departments of the SUS, in order to consolidate an articulated network, thereby improving health care.

Access to health services; Continuity of patient care; Care network; Primary health care

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