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Surgery waiting lists in Andalucía rose by 19.2% in 2023 with 205,005 patients waiting for an operation date
Health

Surgery waiting lists in Andalucía rose by 19.2% in 2023 with 205,005 patients waiting for an operation date

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The backlogs are mostly in traumatology, ophthalmology, gastrointestinal and general surgery, while the operations with the longest delays are in plastic surgery, angiology and cardiovascular surgery

José Luis Piedra

Seville

Wednesday, 17 April 2024, 17:41

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Waiting lists for surgery in Andalucía increased by 19.2% in 2023 to a total of 205,005 patients. Waiting times also increased by more than one month, making it 174 days on average for an operation date to be set.

Some 38% of those awaiting surgery in the region have been waiting more than six months for their operation, while the average waiting time has increased by 40 more days than a year ago, according to data from the Ministry of Health's National Health System.

In contrast, there was a slight reduction of 0.9% in the number of specialist consultations, with 873,266 patients waiting for appointments. Turning to medical specialities, traumatology has the highest number of patients awaiting surgery (48,103), followed by ophthalmology at 41,215, and general and gastrointestinal at 37,394.

Plastic surgery is the area with the longest waiting times, with 65.1% of patient operations pending, followed by angiology and cardiovascular surgery with 63%, neurosurgery with 59.8% and traumatology with 47.2%.

As for patients needing to see a specialist, ophthalmology leads the waiting game with 115,112 patients, followed by traumatology with 114,015 and dermatology with 68,703. The average waiting time in Andalucía for a specialist appointment is 143 days, while 42.3% of patients wait more than 60 days for such an appointment.

Waiting lists for non-emergency surgery have once again broken records in Spain with a total of 849,535 patients awaiting their surgery as of December 2023. This unprecedented figure also represents an increase of 7.1% when compared to December 2022.

Second longest average waiting time

According to the Ministry's report, Andalucía is the region with the second longest average waiting time (the aforementioned 174 days, only behind Extremadura with 181 days), both well above the national average waiting time of 128 days.

In terms of the rate of patients on the waiting list per thousand inhabitants, Andalucía comes in fifth with an average of 24.68 per thousand inhabitants, behind Cantabria, Extremadura, La Rioja and Asturias. Among the regions with the most patients waiting more than six months, Andalucía is in second position (38%), only slightly 'beaten' by Cantabria at 38.9%.

Nationally, waiting lists for operations reached an all-time high with 849,535 patients as of 31 December 2023, 56,014 more than a year earlier, and the 128-day average waiting time is eight more days than at the end of 2022.

'Shock plan'

Despite this year-end rise in waiting lists for 2023, Juanma Moreno, president of the regional government, is convinced that the "extraordinary" investment that his government is allocating to its 'shock plan' to reduce these health-related waiting lists will serve to achieve this objective.

Moreno explained that, with the Junta's so-called 'health guarantee (shock) plan' currently being promoted by his regional government, surgical waiting lists have already been reduced by 10% and he said that this plan "is going to continue pretty much until summer, and we are going to try to reduce them by half".

Moreno added: "with the more than 200 million euros we have spent so that operating theatres stay open morning, noon and night will greatly alleviate the complicated situation we have in terms of waiting lists, which is similar to what we are experiencing in other autonomous regions as a result of the lack of specialists, and also all the after-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic".

Moreno said on Onda Cero radio that this plan will bear fruit "with the extraordinary investment we are making and the commissioning of new health centres, with all of this we will be reducing the waiting lists".

The so-called 'health guarantee plan' is already achieving results, such as the reduction in the number of patients across Andalucía who have been waiting for surgery outside the time limit set by national health regulations. The total has fallen by 5,000 people since December 2023 to last month.

The first phase of this plan, launched by the regional ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs, has an investment of 283.3 million euros to reduce surgery waiting lists, guaranteeing that such surgical procedures will be done by 90, 120 or 180 days. Such measures in the plan are expected to reduce the number of patients still waiting beyond the given timeframes by 60% this year.

The plan is based on the work done by the publicly-funded hospitals themselves, in which 163.3 million euros are being invested, as well as the work done through agreed support partners that amounts to 119.9 million euros, making a total of 283.3 million euros. Through this plan, 341,907 patients are expected to be able to be operated on in Andalucía in 2024: 229,308 through the usual hospital OR schedules (with some overtime), and 91,248 through contracted partners.

As such, a total of 116,261 patients are expected to be on surgical waiting lists with a guarantee date by 31 December 2024, of which only 21,351 will be beyond the given deadlines. The aim is to reduce the number of patients on waiting lists by 18% compared to December 2023, and to reduce the number of patients exceeding agreed waiting times by 60%.

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