Waiting list for surgeries in Spain has never been so long

by Lorraine Williamson
waiting list for surgeries in Spain

Since the surgeries shutdown during the pandemic, surgeons are doing their best to shorten waiting lists and times for surgery. Yet never before in the history of Spain were there so many people on a waiting list to be operated on. 

The waiting list for operations in public hospitals in Spain is getting longer by the day. Plannable operations were put on hold during the pandemic. Therefore, since things have calmed down in the hospitals, surgeons are trying to catch up. 

Record number of people on waiting list for surgeries in Spain 

However, this is easier said than done. As of December 31, 2021, there were 706,740 people in Spain waiting for surgery. Waiting list numbers have been kept since 2003, but never have they been this long. This waiting list even surpasses the number at the end of 2020, the year in which Spain was paralysed by the corona pandemic. On December 31, 2020, there were 56,861 fewer people on the waiting list. 

More people waiting but shorter waiting time than years ago in Spain 

The Ministry of Health in Spain announced the figures for the waiting lists for care at the beginning of May. Currently, the average waiting time for a surgical procedure in Spanish public hospitals is 123 days. Although the waiting list is currently longer, the average waiting time is 32 days shorter than a year ago. 

Which surgeries do Spaniards have to wait the longest for? 

The average waiting list and waiting time to be operated on differs with each type of operation. The specialty that is most disadvantaged in Spain, with 177,239 people on the waiting list, is traumatology (as a result of accidents or violence). After that comes ophthalmology with 150,355 people on the waiting list and general surgery and digestive diseases with 132,440 people on the waiting list. 

In which Spanish region are patients treated the fastest? 

The length of the waiting lists does not only differ per condition, it is also the case that people in one region can be helped more quickly than in another. For example, the waiting list is longest in Catalonia and Andalucia with 154,799 and 122,959 people waiting respectively. Although Aragon has one of the shorter waiting lists, residents of this Spanish region have to wait the longest before it’s their turn. Aragon has an average waiting time of 183 days. The Basque Country, Madrid, and Galicia are the fastest, with average waiting times of between 70 and 80 days. 

Also read: Backlogs for specialist care

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