What are the waiting times for medical consultations and surgical procedures in Spain?

by Lorraine Williamson
medical waiting times
ASSSA

MADRID – During the campaigns for the May 28 autonomous elections, false or misleading claims have been made about the state of public health waiting lists in regions such as Valencia, Extremadura, Navarra and La Rioja. 

That is why fact checker Newtral.es put things in a row based on health reports and indicators. It shows that Madrid is the region where the waiting time for medical consultations has increased the most in the past four years. La Rioja was the autonomous region where the patient ratio per 1,000 inhabitants and the waiting time for surgical procedures increased the most between 2018 and 2022. 

Health reports and indicators 

The health reports on waiting lists cover two aspects. These are: surgeries, which measure the number of “patients awaiting surgery”, and consultations, which refer to “patients awaiting a first appointment for specialised care”. This situation is measured by indicators such as waiting time in days per 1,000 inhabitants, average waiting time for medical care, and the percentage of patients waiting longer than 60 days or six months. 

Increase in waiting times in Madrid and La Rioja 

Data from the health service shows that waiting times for surgical procedures have increased between 2018 and 2022 in all regions except Valencia, Castilla-La Mancha and Andalucia.Moreover, in terms of consultations, only Aragón and Andalucia improved their data compared to 2018. 

La Rioja 

In La Rioja, the waiting time for surgical procedures has increased the most in the past four years, from an average of 43 to 118 days. This results in a drop from second to eleventh place in the ranking of waiting times. 

Madrid 

For consultations, Madrid is the region where the waiting time has increased the most, from 39 to 75 days. This puts the region in eighth place in the ranking of waiting times, three places lower than in 2018. 

Improvement in Andalucia and Valencia 

However, contrary to the general trend, Andalucia is the region where the waiting time for both surgical procedures and consultations has decreased the most. Despite this, it remains the region with the longest waiting time for specialised care in public health care. 

Valencia, on the other hand, shows the greatest improvement in surgical waiting time rankings. The region has risen seven places and is now in seventh position. Castilla-La Mancha follows with a rise from the sixteenth position to the tenth position. 

The biggest improvement in Extremadura and Aragon 

In terms of consultations, Extremadura and Aragón show the greatest improvement, both rising six places. They are now in ninth and tenth position respectively, where patients have to wait less. 

Castilla-La Mancha 

Castilla-La Mancha is the only region to have reduced the number of patients on the waiting list per 1,000 inhabitants for both consultations and surgeries between 2018 and 2022. Other regions, such as Navarra and the Comunidad Valenciana, have also shown a decrease. On the other hand, La Rioja and Cantabria have experienced the largest increases in this regard, registering the highest rates of patients on the waiting list per 1,000 inhabitants. 

In terms of consultations, five regions – Aragon, Catalonia, Ceuta, La Rioja and Castilla-La Mancha – have improved their numbers of patients on the waiting list per 1,000 inhabitants since 2018. In the remaining regions, the situation has worsened, especially in Melilla and Castilla y Leon. 

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