A nurse at a health centre gives a dose of flu vaccine to a colleague. R.C.
Satisfaction with Spain's public healthcare system remains at a low after shortcomings highlighted by Covid-19 pandemic

Satisfaction with Spain's public healthcare system remains at a low after shortcomings highlighted by Covid-19 pandemic

The average wait time to see a family doctor now exceeds nine days and first appointments with out-patient hospital specialists can take more than three months

Alfonso Torices


Friday, 9 February 2024, 09:54


Satisfaction of Spain's public healthcare services remains low following the coronavirus pandemic, which brought to light some of the system's shortcomings.

According to the 2023 Health Barometer, an annual test carried out by the CIS (Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas) public research institute, the overall score given by the population to the health system is 6.27, almost half a point below the score given before the Covid-19 crisis, which was 6.74.

The only positive aspect of the study's conclusions is that it seems that at least the discredit has reached a plateau, as the confidence gap detected in 2022 has not deepened any further in the past year.

The highest rating was for 112 health emergencies and for the care provided in hospital wards and operating theatres, scoring 7.42 and 7.23, respectively. Consultations and emergency services fared the worst, both in clinics and hospitals.

Only 56.7% believe the Spanish health system works well or fairly well, 15% less than in 2019, according to the findings.

Offering a glimmer of hope, 90 per say they are satisfied with the care received during a hospital stay, while those who are equally satisfied after a visit to a family doctor or specialist range between 81% and 83%. The lowest level of satisfaction is given to hospital emergencies, but even so, 75% of users are still happy.

Almost one third with private insurance

Long waiting lists have dented people's confidence in the public health system, according to the findings. On eight out of ten occasions when people used the system last year, the time they had to wait to see their family doctor exceeded nine days on average (9.12) and only one in five was given an appointment for the following day.

Four out of every ten patients referred by a family GP to an out-patient hospital specialist had to wait more than three months before having their first consultation.

Since 2015 there has also been a notable increase in the number of people who have taken out private health insurance, according to the findings. A total of 30% of the Spanish population has private cover, 21.5 per cent have taken it out personally while 9.4% enjoy its benefits due to work. Two out of every three privately insured people cite "the speed with which they are attended to" in the public health system as the main reason for taking out cover.

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