Two million operations not performed in Spain due to long waiting lists

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operations and waiting lists

The Spanish public healthcare system is under pressure. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, waiting lists have grown significantly. Between then, and 2022, nine million primary care consultations and two million operations that should have taken place were not carried out.

Infobae writes this based on conclusions drawn from official waiting list data collected by the Venturi Project for the Health Circle. This data is published every six months by the Ministry of Health. The conclusion marks a dark period for patients in Spain. The waiting lists are a cause for concern not only because of their length but also because the ratio compared to the activities carried out is increasing.

The numbers

In June 2023, approximately 819,964 patients were waiting for a non-emergency surgical procedure, 115,000 more than before the pandemic. Although the average waiting time has decreased slightly to 112 days, three days less than in June 2019, the situation remains worrying. In the same period, 1.5 million people ended up on the surgical waiting list. That is a record number, while 1.25 million were taken off. This shows an unaccounted difference of 250,000 patients.

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Causes of the overload

The overload of primary care plays a crucial role in this problem. The focus is increasingly on follow-up consultations, at the expense of initial consultations. This leads to delays in diagnoses and prescription of operations. In 2022, 62.50 million follow-up consultations were registered, an increasing trend, compared to 24.64 million initial consultations. Yet that is still less than the 26 million before the pandemic.

This situation is aggravated by the following factors:

  • The growth of the general population
  • the increase of approximately one million health cards since 2020
  • the ageing of the population
  • more than 20 million chronic patients increase the pressure on all healthcare processes.

An alarming waiting time for consultations

According to the latest CIS data, 69.8% of people who tried to make an appointment at their health centre had to wait more than a day because no previous appointment was available. The average waiting time for a consultation was 9.12 days, an increase compared to 8.8 days in 2022.

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