The Junta de Andalucía's 60-day maximum waiting time for patients requesting an initial consultation with a hospital specialist is being exceeded across the vast majority of the region.
The statistic has been revealed in the latest update of the surgical and diagnostic test waiting lists issued by the regional government’s Ministry of Health, as of December 2020.
The delay in a first consultation means a sick person has to wait longer for diagnostic tests that can lead to a subsequent delay in surgery if an operation is necessary. And any delay in diagnosis can lead to a worsening of the patient’s condition.
Because of the situation, the public health service has temporarily revoked the 60-day guarantee for a first appointment to see a specialist - contained in two decrees approved in 2001 and 2004 - “until the epidemiological situation is normalised ”.
The total number of patients waiting to be seen for a first consultation with a specialist in Andalucía is 605,890, of which 279,620 have been on the waiting list for more than 60 days.
The Andalusian province with the highest average wait is Jaén (143 days), followed by Cadiz (136), Almería (129), Huelva (115), Granada (113), Malaga (108), Seville (89) and Cordoba (52). As the data shows, only Cordoba is below the 60-day maximum limit.
The average that the people of Malaga province have to wait is 108 days. Of the 154,936 patients who were waiting to be seen by a specialist last December some 79,339 exceeded the two-month wait (51.2 per cent).
Average waits range from 65 days for Hospital Costa del Sol in Marbella to 139 days for the Serranía de Ronda. Malaga’s Regional Hospital (formerly the Carlos Haya) has an average delay of 105 days, the Virgen de la Victoria (Clínico) Hospital 125 days, the hospital in Antequera 84 days and the Axarquía hospital 78 days.
The coronavirus pandemic has meant, especially in the first and third waves, the postponement of operations, consultations and diagnostic tests, but the data shows that before the arrival of the coronavirus in Andalucía, five of the six public hospitals in Malaga were already failing to comply with the 60-day maximum wait for a first medical consultation.
Prior to Covid, the Clínico hospital had an average delay of 175 days, the Regional Hospital of 123, the Serranía de Ronda of 90, Antequera 69 and the Axarquía of 67. Only the Costa del Sol Hospital in Marbella achieved the target with an average wait of 52 days.
Surgery waiting lists
For Andalucía as a whole, there were 137,370 patients awaiting an operation at the end of 2020, with an average delay of 190 days.
While, at the end of 2020, there were 21,082 people awaiting an operation in Malaga province with an average wait of 162 days, which represents a reduction of 18 days in comparison to that registered on June 30 of last year.