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Data from hospitals in Malaga are mostly positive SUR
Hospital wait times for surgery drops but the number of patients waiting for ops is on the rise
Health

Hospital wait times for surgery drops but the number of patients waiting for ops is on the rise

There are currently 33,975 people in Malaga province waiting to undergo surgery, some 2,000 more than in December

Iván Gelibter

Malaga

Wednesday, 10 July 2024, 18:50

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Waiting times for surgery at hospitals across Malaga province are finally starting to drop after several years of increases, according to new data.

However, the number of patients requiring surgical intervention has increased. There are currently 33,975 people in the province waiting to undergo surgery, some 2,000 more than in December, according to the regional ministry of health report from the Junta. However, outside the period established by decree (60, 90 or 180 days, depending on the type of operation) there are 2,068 people, which compared to December is 1,320 fewer patients, around 40% less than in December. Historically, this was one of the figures that placed the most strain on Malaga province hospitals.

Data for waiting times released in the report on 28 June shows an improvement compared to the last document which was released on 30 December last year. Patients waiting for more than 365 days for surgery has decreased by 25%, according to the regional ministry of health figures. The average number of days waiting for surgery has fallen from 160 to 137 days.

In previous reports, when waiting times for surgery went up, waiting times for outpatient consultations went down, and vice versa. This has not been the case this time, as in the second case there is also reason for optimism. There are currently some 200,000 people waiting for an initial consultation, 20,000 fewer than six months ago. This 10% drop means there are 20% fewer patients waiting more than 60 days for this first consultation, although the overall figure (107,647 people) is still extremely high.

Despite the overall improvement, Malaga province residents still wait an average of 115 days to be seen by a specialist (depending on the hospital), 17 days less than in December.

Improve hospitals

If these data are extrapolated to the hospitals in the province, the situation is similar, although not equally so in all of them. One of the most striking improvements is that of the Regional Hospital in Malaga city, whose average surgery wait time (whether outside or within the decree) has fallen from 239 to 208 days on average. The Clínico also recorded a drop - from 96 to 92 - although in this case it is due to the accumulation of people waiting to be operated on, which have a time guarantee, has gone from 4,729 patients to 5,870; a thousand more users, which means the average delay has increased from 56 to 62 days. This comes after 300 doctors from this hospital demanded a reaction from management to what they considered to be an "unsustainable situation".

In terms of outpatient consultations by hospital, the picture is similar. The Regional Hospital managed to reduce the average waiting time from 140 to 97 days, while the Clínico reduced it considerably less, from 136 to 119 days on average. The Hospital Costa del Sol recorded the worst result, where wait times increased from an average of 130 days to 144.

'Effectiveness' of the guarantee plan

The regional ministry of health has celebrated the figures. Regional minister Catalina García pointed out the "effectiveness" of the health guarantee plan launched at the start of this year, the main argument being that Andalucía has managed to reduce by 20.93% the number people in Andalucía waiting for surgery after the deadline. If in December 2023 there were 53,014 patients on the waiting list after the deadline, there are currently 41,920 (11,094 fewer).

The number of patients waiting within the guaranteed time frame is also reduced. From 142,507 in December 2023 to 138,298 today. That is, 4,209 fewer, or 2.95% less. Likewise, the average delay within the guaranteed procedures has been reduced, from 150 days in December to 139 today (7.3% less). The aim of the health guarantee plan is to reduce by 60% the number of patients waiting for an operation outside the guaranteed time frame, and the general waiting list by 18%.

In the period from January to June 2024, some 215,865 people in Andalucía were operated on, 8% more than in the same period last year, which amounts to 16,126 more people. With a growth in extraordinary activity of almost 260% compared to the same period in 2023. "Through overtime, 13,242 more people have been operated on," they said.

In relation to the overall figures for surgical waiting lists, as of 28 June this year there were a total of 215,275 Andalusians on the surgical waiting list. This is almost 1,500 fewer than in December 2023. This is 0.7% less. In addition, the average delay is reduced by six days, from 179 in December to the current 173, and 35 days with respect to the December 2018 cut-off.

As for outpatient consultations, in December 2023 there were 873,266 Andalusians waiting for an appointment with a specialist, compared to 848,787 in June 2024. This is a decrease of almost 24,500 people, which is 3% less. Patients with a delay of more than 60 days are also reduced: from 486,562 in December to 438,589 today, the figures show. That is, nearly 48,000 fewer people, a reduction of 10%. The average number of days of delay is also decreasing, from 143 days in December to 135 days today, a total of eight days less.

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