Spain needs 35,000 hospital beds to reach the EU average

by Lorraine Williamson
shortage of hospital beds in Spain

MADRID – Spain needs 35,000 extra hospital beds to match the European average. With 3 hospital beds per 1,000 inhabitants, the country lags behind countries such as Germany, Romania, Austria and Bulgaria. 

Those countries have 7 hospital beds per 1,000 inhabitants. The nursing union SATSE reports this on Friday. SATSE emphasises in a press release that this lack of beds is a major obstacle and exacerbates waiting lists for operations. 

Also read: What are the waiting times for medical consultations and procedures in Spain? 

According to recent data from the Ministry of Health, as many as 793,521 patients are waiting for surgery, with an average waiting time of 122 days. Worryingly, 22% of these patients have been on hold for more than 6 months. 

Cogesa Expats

Further cuts have harmful consequences 

SATSE criticises governments and political parties for continuing to cut resources and infrastructure in public health care, despite the detrimental impact on public health. 

In addition, the union points to the recurring problem in the summer. During this period, regional governments close hospital beds because healthcare workers go on vacation (such as 8,600 in 2022). Consequently, this further exacerbates waiting lists for surgical procedures. 

Patients are often discharged prematurely 

A worrying consequence of the shortage of beds is that patients are often discharged prematurely, leading to later readmissions and significantly higher healthcare costs. 

Prioritise additional hospital beds 

That is why the union calls on the new regional administrators, who took office after the elections, to make hospital beds a priority. SATSE is asking the Boards of Health and responsible health officials to address and resolve this urgent public health problem. 

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