Hospital Regional has the longest waiting list for surgery locally. / ÑITO SALAS

Patients are waiting longer for surgery due to the pandemic

The average wait for an operation in Malaga province was 124 days at the end of last year and for a first appointment with a consultant it was 104 days

Ángel Escalera
ÁNGEL ESCALERA

. The fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is the main reason why the average waiting time for surgery has become longer in five of the six Andalusian Health Service hospitals in Malaga province.

According to latest data released last week and based on the end of last year, the only local hospital with a drop in waiting time for surgery over the previous six months, was Clínico Virgen de la Victoria hospital, from 110 days to 66.

Meanwhile, in the Regional hospital (formerly called Carlos Haya), the Costa del Sol in Marbella, and the hospitals in Antequera, La Axarquía and Ronda, the time to wait for surgery had gone up.

On 30 December last year, 21,048 patients were waiting for operations in Malaga province including the Costa del Sol. That was 1,073 (or 5.4 per cent) more than the last data, six months earlier in June 2021. The average waiting time was 124 days (three days more than six months earlier).

The hospital in Malaga province with the longest average waiting time for surgery was the large Regional (in Malaga city), at 208 days. At the end of December last year, patients at the Costa del Sol hospital in Marbella had to wait an average of 68 days for surgery; in Antequera 106 days; in La Axarquía 85 days; and in Ronda 70 days.

Appointments with consultants

In terms of the wait to see a specialist for the first time after a referral from a GP, the average wait also went up in five of these six hospitals.

At the end of 2021, there were 203,640 people in Malaga province waiting for a first consultation with a specialist (26,584 more than six months earlier), with an average waiting time of 104 days compared with 94 in June 2021.

The arrival of the fifth wave of the pandemic last summer is directly linked to the increase in the number of people waiting for surgery and those waiting for a first meeting with a consultant, because priority had to be given to patients with Covid. The number of Covid cases also shot up at the same time as many medical staff were on holiday, and some operating theatres are shut down during August.

Only the Serranía hospital in Ronda had managed to reduce the response time for specialist appointments from 121 to 111 days by the end of December.

Regional data

In terms of the whole of the Andalucía region - including Malaga - the figures for 30 December last year show that 135,008 patients were on the waiting lists for surgery (11,669 more than six month earlier), with an average delay of 134 days. At the same time, 873,047 patients in the region were waiting for a first appointment with a specialist (152,441 more), and on average they had to wait 105 days (17 days longer).