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This is how the SAS is working to reduce waiting lists in the public health sector across Andalucía
Health

This is how the SAS is working to reduce waiting lists in the public health sector across Andalucía

The aim of the Servicio Andaluz de Salud plan is to increase the number of surgical procedures, outpatient consultations as well as diagnostic tests in the region

Europa Press

Malaga

Sunday, 7 January 2024, 09:40

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The Andalusian public health service (Servicio Andaluz de Salud - SAS) continues to execute its plan to reduce waiting lists by increasing both the surgical capacity and number of outpatient consultations, as well as diagnostic tests, in the region.

Regional minister of health Catalina García announced some of the measures SAS has put in place after acknowledging current waiting times for some procedures are below standard.

She recognised again that the waiting list data were not satisfactory and that her Ministry "would not stand idly by" in the face of this situation. Even so, she pointed out that currently a patient in Andalucía waits 64 days less for an operation than in 2018 - going from 208 days to 144 days in 2023 - and 55 days less to be seen for a hospital consultation than five years ago - from 176 days to 121 in 2023. García also reminded that her priority has always been the increase in healthcare activity through the SAS's own resources.

"We are improving" the percentage of operating theatre occupancy, and "we are working intensively" to obtain a better level of performance in those operating theatres that are used less than 85% of the normal working day, according to a regional Ministry of Health statement.

Another measure is an upping of the usage of surgical facilities across various Andalusian hospitals in a bid to slash operation wait times. In facilities with more waiting list issues than others, healthcare personnel are offered the possibility of working their usual shift in the afternoon instead of in the morning. "It is a measure that allows us to double the teams and increase surgical activity," García said. Patients who are waiting longer than the guaranteed time have also been added to priority lists, García added.

Closure forecast reports

Additionally, a closure forecast report for the year is now provided. In this report, each hospital centre knows on a daily basis the forecast of the number of patients that will be out of their guaranteed waiting period at the end of the year, therefore allow them to allocate more time, both for surgeries and diagnostic procedures, for those specialties that have a greater volume of demand. García said the Doctor Muñoz Cariñanos Hospital in Seville, which has ten new operating theatres, 42 post-anaesthesia recovery beds and seven endoscopy rooms, is an example of how facilities are helping cut through a backlog in surgeries.

A collaboration plan has also been activated between geographically close hospital centres, with the aim of alleviating the deficit of professionals in key areas of healthcare activity such as anaesthetists or neurologists. In hospital centres that suffer from a staff deficit, where it has not been possible to fill these positions with temporary or permanent staff, professionals are being drafted in from other nearby centres, "logically with their corresponding remuneration," she pointed out. This is the case of the hospital in Jaén Hospital with professionals from San Cecilio, and the Serranía de Ronda hospital with professionals from the Costa del Sol hospital.

Second block of measures

A second block of measures to reduce waiting lists involves increasing work activity. Health professionals in the SAS are able to voluntarily extend their working day on a fixed and paid basis, enabling a boost to patient care in the morning, afternoon, evening and night, also at weekends.

Since October, SAS health employees have worked more than 1.8 million overtime hours, 8.69% more than in 2022 and 40% more than in 2018. And with a forecast to reach 2.5 million hours by the end of the year, the estimated expenditure for the continuity of care in 2024 is 128 million euros, 66% more than in 2018.

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