Waiting more than a week for an appointment with a GP in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
GP appointment

MADRID – Spaniards wait an average of 8.9 days for an appointment with a GP. That is a slight improvement from March when the waiting time averaged 9.1 days. Compared to five years ago, however, the waiting time to see a doctor has doubled. 

30% of those who made an appointment with their GP in the past year had to wait more than a week. 22.5% of Spaniards had to wait “eleven days or more” to see their GP from the public health system. 

These are the results of the second wave of the Health Barometer 2022, from the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Centre for Sociological Research (CIS). This annual poll is based on approximately 7,800 interviews with people aged 18 and over in all Spanish provinces. 

Health problem, no doctor 

13% of respondents confirm that they were unable to see their doctor because of a real health problem. In addition, 28% of those surveyed were unable to even contact their medical centre. 43% got an appointment many days later and 8.3% thought the centres were very saturated and went straight to the emergency room. 

Problem “worsened” in past 12 months 

Regarding the perception of waiting lists, 40.4% of those surveyed believe the problem has “worsened” in the past 12 months and 34.6% think it “stayed the same”, compared to a minority of 12% who saw an improvement.

Opinion on health care is generally positive 

The majority of the population (58.8%) is positive about the functioning of the health system in Spain. 44% of those surveyed think the Spanish health system works “good” and only needs “some changes”, and 14.5% think it works reasonably well. 

Healthcare needs “fundamental changes” 

Furthermore, one in four Spaniards believes that the health system needs “fundamental changes”. It is admitted that “some things work”, while 15.2% opt for “deep changes”. 

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Quality care is experienced as good 

The barometer shows that Spaniards generally have a good opinion about the quality of primary care. The interviewees who have visited their GP in the last 12 months rate the quality as very good (31.8%) and good (47%), while 15.8% classify it as “normal”, 3.3% as bad and 1.8% as very bad. 

Emergency care in health centres 

As for the emergency department, 30.4% visited this department at some point in the past year. Of these, 45% had to wait for one to four hours to be seen, while the percentage seen in less than an hour drops to 27%. All in all, three in ten respondents rate the care as very good, almost 50% as good, 17% as regular; 3.5% as bad and 4.2% as very bad. 

Care in hospitals 

Patients admitted to hospitals rate the care by medical and nursing staff with an 8.41 and more than 80% indicate that the care has been good to very good. 

Telephone consultations 

56.7% of those surveyed went to the health centre, while 40% of consultations were by telephone and only 0.5% had a doctor visit at home. 72% found the telephone consultation more pleasant for the doctor, compared to 49% who believe that it benefits the patient. Half say they understand directions as well as in a face-to-face consultation. 

Just over half of Spaniards -54% – would even be willing to receive care from their GP via video consultation. 31% would not want it and 12% think they cannot use it.

Also read: Even fewer doctors in primary care

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