The number of people waiting in Spain for a non-urgent surgical intervention set a historical record in the first quarter of 2023. Until June 30, 819,964 patients were waiting to be operated on. There are 77,446 more people than a year ago, and while this number is increasing, the waiting time is getting shorter. On the same date, the average is 112 days, or almost four months, which is one day less than 12 months ago. To see a specialist, there are 78.5 patients per 1,000 inhabitants who have to wait, on average, 87 days.
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The communities that increased the average waiting time for non-urgent intervention are the Canary Islands (153), Extremadura (147), Cantabria (142), Andalusia (139 days), Catalonia (131), Aragón (126) and the Balearic Islands (122). It is, moreover, those more than 120 days in which the new coalition government wants to limit the wait for an intervention after the agreement between PSOE and Sumar. Meanwhile, the best records can be found in Madrid (45), Galicia (66), and Euskadi (68).
But the data should not be viewed in isolation because the waits are increasing. How long does it take to see a primary care doctor? How big is a specialist? How long will the intervention last? According to the registry of the Ministry of Health, in June, in the National Health System, there were 78.5 patients per 1,000 inhabitants waiting to be seen in an outpatient clinic. In the Canary Islands, the average waiting time is 123 days; in Andalusia, it is 121; and in Navarra, it is 110. The coalition agreement assures that these waits will not exceed 60 days on average, something that only happens in Madrid (51), Euskadi (44) and La Rioja (46). But, again, the average can be misleading because, in these three communities, a significant percentage of the population exceeds that barrier: 57%, 27%, and 64.7%, respectively.
By specialists, the operations where the longest waiting time is recorded are ongoing plastic operations, with 225 days (seven and a half months); neurosurgery, with 192 days; and traumatology, with 133, and where the majority of patients are waiting, almost 200,000. Until June 30, more than 176,000 people are waiting for intervention in the field of ophthalmology, and more than 146,000 are waiting for general and digestive surgery.
The number of patients waiting increased for all specialties and stood at 17.55 people per 1,000. In addition, 17.4% waited more than half a year for a call confirming intervention to relieve or improve their condition.
As for the procedures, those that accumulate the longest are bunion operations, where you have to wait an average of 121 days; benign prostate hypertrophies, with an average of 119 days; and arthroscopies, with 118 days. All specifically monitored procedures are subject to a six-month waiting period. In addition to those mentioned, these are: cataract interventions (68 days), inguinal hernias (101), hip prosthesis (111), varicose veins (102), cholecystectomy (104), adeno-tonsillectomy (98), pilonidal cyst (102) and carpal tunnel (77).
Where the biggest progress has been made in reducing waiting lists are heart valve operations, which now stand at 57 days, 28 less than a year ago; and the by-pass coronary artery, which reduced the average wait of 23 days to 40. For knee prosthesis, the wait remains at 134 days, and for hysterectomy, it is 105.
Regarding external consultations, the average waiting time is 87 days. Until June 30, there were 78.5 patients per 1,000 inhabitants waiting to be seen by a specialist, of which more than half (51.6%) had a date assigned more than 60 days. The professionals with the longest wait are those in neurology (118 days), dermatology (99 days), and traumatology (90 days).