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Surgery waiting times in Spain: 93 days, slightly down from 2017

Madrid, Basque Country and La Rioja have the shortest delays, while the Canaries, Catalonia and Murcia have the longest

A surgery at Clínic Hospital in Barcelona.
A surgery at Clínic Hospital in Barcelona.

Patients wait an average of 93 days for surgery at a public hospital in Spain, and one in every eight people wait over six months, according to new data released on Thursday by the Health Ministry.

The figures show that 584,000 patients were on a waiting list on June 30, or 20,000 fewer than a year earlier. Average waiting times have been reduced by 11 days, and the longest waiting times, of six months and over, have also shrunk by 15% from June 30, 2017.

The average waiting time to see a specialist is 57 days

Broken down by regions, the best patient-to-population ratio is in the Basque Country, where there are 8.02 people on a surgery waiting list for every 100,000 residents, followed by Madrid (8.05) and Andalusia (8.15). At the other end of the spectrum, the worst performer is Catalonia with 21.44 patients waiting for surgery for every 100,000 residents, followed by Extremadura (19.97) and Murcia (18.5).

The shortest waiting times are in Madrid and La Rioja (47 days), followed closely by the Basque Country (48). The longest waits are in the Canary Islands (147 days), Castilla-La Mancha (137 days) and Catalonia (132 days).

Orthopedic surgery and ophtalmology (mostly for cataract surgery) continue to have the greatest number of patients on a waiting list: 157,419 and 128,619 respectively. The shortest lists are for thoracic surgery (1,652 patients) and heart surgery (2,736). Figures have improved for both specialties between June 30, 2017 and June 30, 2018.

The Health Ministry uses data sent in by the regional governments to draw a picture of the national situation

Waiting times have also retreated across specialties except for maxillofacial surgery, where the average waiting time has increased by three days. And the average delay for neurosurgery is 145 days.

The Health Ministry uses data sent in by the regional governments to draw a picture of the national situation. The public healthcare system performs 3.6 million surgeries each year, including programmed ones and emergency operations.

As for waiting times to see a specialist, the national average is 57 days, one less than in 2017. The longest delays are to see traumatologists and ophtalmologists: 68 and 64 days, respectively.

English version by Susana Urra.

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