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Record waiting periods hit Spanish patients

Alex Dunham · 26 Aug 2013, 10:29

Published: 26 Aug 2013 10:29 GMT+02:00

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A record 571,395 people in Spain were put on a waiting list for an operation in 2012 – the highest ever figure since the Spanish Health System started collecting data in 2004.

The average waiting period also rose from 76 to 100 days from June to December 2012, representing a 6.4 percent rise.

Spanish law states that certain medical interventions cannot be held off for a period longer than six months.

This applies to cataract operations but 16.5 percent of patients waited for a period longer than 180 days.

It was also the case for hip replacements, where 26.88 percent of those requiring the intervention had to wait for more than half a year .

“Even though spending cuts have led to great savings in aspects such as pharmaceutical costs, they have also resulted in huge reductions in the number of medical personnel available,” Tomás Toranzo, vice president of medical union CESM, told Spanish daily El País.

“This is having a severe effect on our medical system.”

Since 2010, Spain’s health budget has been drastically reduced by €6.9 billion.

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Hundreds of doctors in regions like Madrid, Castile-La Mancha and Valencia have been forced to retire at 65, with no replacements being provided to the health centres where they once worked.

Other reasons why waiting periods have grown so radically include the closure of health centres across Spain as well as reduced opening hours.

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

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