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The Regional Hospital is the centre with the worst figures in the whole province, and one of the worst in Andalucía SUR
Junta unveils plan to invest almost 300 million euros to slash surgery waiting lists
Healthcare

Junta unveils plan to invest almost 300 million euros to slash surgery waiting lists

It comes as the regional ministry of health revealed - without the data yet being public - waiting times had shot up again in December following poor results last June

Iván Gelibter

Thursday, 22 February 2024, 13:59

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The Junta has announced a shock plan to invest almost 300 million euros to reduce waiting lists in Andalusian hospital operating theatres.

It comes as the regional ministry of health revealed - without the data yet being public - that wait times had gone up again in December, following poor results from last June. The investment plan involves 283.3 million euros in the first phase with the aim of "significantly" reducing surgical waiting lists for guaranteed procedures (with maximum waits of 90, 120 and 180 days). Once implemented, Andalucía will reduce the number of patients outside of this category by 60% this year, health officials added.

They said the plan is being activated following an increase in the number of patients waiting for surgery outside the guaranteed procedures list recorded at the end of 2023. "If in June 2023 there were 134,749 patients waiting for surgery within the guaranteed procedures and, of these, 36,004 outside the decrees; in December 2023 that figure rose to 142,507 patients, of which 53,014 were outside the decree of guarantees," health officials said.

According to the regional ministry, one of the reasons behind the increase is the "reactivation" of healthcare activity after the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2022, 640,911 more consultations were carried out and in 2023, 494,576 more, they pointed out. "As a consequence of the latter, there is an increase in recommendations for surgical procedures," they said. In 2022 send-offs for surgery increased by 9.58%, meaning 38,610 more patients were registered on the operation waiting list than in 2021. In 2023, the increase compared to 2022 was 1.42%, with 6,249 more patients.

A "serious shortage" in healthcare professionals has also contributed to an increase in waiting lists, particularly in anaesthesiology where it is "practically impossible" for the Andalusian Health Service to find workers to replace for sick leave or rest periods. The cancellation of ordinary agreements in hospitals has also caused waiting lists to blow out, the regional ministry pointed out.

Reorganisation

In a bid to remedy the situation, since 1 October a "reorganisation" of ordinary surgical procedures has been under way in four key areas: daily monitoring of public hospitals to up surgery capacity; guaranteeing the patients experiencing the longest delays are operated on; sizing surgeries by speciality, and re-evaluating patients with the longest wait times.

In facilities with more waiting list issues than others, healthcare personnel are offered the possibility of working overtime.

According to official data, the hospital with the longest delay is the Regional Hospital of Malaga, whose average delay in June 2023 was 200 days - there were 11,907 people on the waiting list, making it the fourth worst hospital in Andalucía, behind only the University Hospital of Jaén (226 days), Juan Ramón Jiménez Hospital in Huelva (224 days) and Torrecárdenas University Hospital in Almería (209) days. In Seville, the most populated province in Andalucía, the hospital with the longest waiting time was Hospital Universitario Virgen del Rocío, with an average of 142 days.

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