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Costa del Sol hospital waiting times can be twice as long depending on where the patient lives
Health

Costa del Sol hospital waiting times can be twice as long depending on where the patient lives

Numbers on waiting lists for surgery in Malaga province have gone up 30 per cent since 2022 but the trend is being blamed on wrong original data

Iván Gelibter / Alba Martín Campos

Malaga

Friday, 24 November 2023, 16:42

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How long a patient living in Malaga province - including the Costa del Sol - waits for their operation or outpatients appointment varies enormously depending on the public hospital that covers their postcode, new data has shown.

According to the latest figures up to June 2023, published by the national ministry for Health, the longest average wait for an operation at Malaga city's main Hospital Regional (formerly called Carlos Haya) is 200 days. This contrasts with the shortest average wait for operations in the province at inland Ronda's Serranía local hospital, with a wait of 70 days.

But the Serranía hospital does not fare so well in terms of a wait for an outpatients appointment to see a consultant. Then, the average delay is 142 days, up from 81 in 2022.

The wait for an operation at Malaga's large Hospital Regional of 200 days, which was also the highest in 2022 at 193 days, is particular striking as the city's other large hospital, the Virgen de la Victoria (known as the Clínico), just a few kilometres away, had an average waiting time of under half, at 80 days in June 2023, up from 68 in 2022.

In other words, depending on your address in and around Malaga city, your wait for treatment could be over twice as long.

Increases all round

Overall waiting times for operations in all hospitals in Malaga province including the Costa del Sol have gone up since 2022 and no hospital has a wait of fewer than 50 days for an operation or an appointment with a consultant.

As well as surgery waiting times going up, the number of people on the lists overall has also shot up since 2022. In overall terms, Malaga province had 32,107 people on waiting lists for surgery in June. This is 29.9 per cent more than in 2022, when the figure was already high after the delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although the latest data has been published by the national government, it is the regional government that is responsible for the health service and compiling the data.

Political blame

The regional minister of Health has blamed the increase on inaccurate old figures from before the conservative Partido Popular party took over the regional government from the Socialists.

Catalina García said that the current regional government had "dragged up" 60 per cent's worth of undeclared waiting lists. "The system is working and this can be seen through the increase in referrals, outpatients appointments and more operations," she explained.

"When we got here, the number of people in Andalucía waiting for an operation, based on what the Socialist regional government had declared back then, was 72,000. When we declared data at the [last] December cut-off, that list had gone up to 172,000," she added, saying that the same thing happened with diagnostic tests: from 222,000 declared to 685,000 outpatients appointments not fully declared.

Malaga round-up

Following on from the 200-day wait at the Hospital Regional, the next longest wait for an operation in Malaga province is at Antequera hospital (123 average wait); Hospital Costa del Sol (112 days, up from 70 in 2022); Hospital de la Axarquía (89 days); Hospital Clínico Virgen de la Victoria (80 days); and Ronda's Serranía hospital, that has waits of 70 days on average.

Although they are not as dramatic, the waiting lists for a first outpatients appointment with a consultant are also worrying, and despite in a few cases the figure going down compared to 2022. After Serranía hospital on 142 days comes Hospital Clínico (average delay of 115 days), Hospital Regional (109 days), Hospital Costa del Sol (98 days), Hospital de la Axarquía (90 days) and Antequera, with 52 days wait.

32,107

patients were waiting for an operation in a Malaga province hospital, according to latest published data from the ministry of Health.

The Hospital Regional is not only the worst performer by far for operations in the province, but it is also in the top four worst performers in all the Andalucía Health Service for surgery.

Hospital Regional

Far from taking measures to solve the increase in waiting lists, the Hospital Regional announced a few days ago it was cancelling at least 300 hours of care cover, as reported by the medics union and which hasn't been denied by hospital management. This will save 70,000 euros a month but, say doctors, the main consequence will be the growth of waiting lists that are already very high.

In the opinion of the union , the reason waiting lists are so high is the "underfunding" of the Hospital Regional in Malaga, which cannot find the 800,000 euros it intends to save.

"If the managers of the regional health service do not adequately provide for the Regional Hospital financially, we will continue with unseemly waiting lists and the people of Malaga will suffer unnecessarily," they commented.

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