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What is the average waiting time across Spain to see a doctor?

Find out the average amount of time you'll have to wait to see your GP, a specialist and get a non-urgent surgery in your region of Spain.

What is the average waiting time across Spain to see a doctor?
Doctor appointment waiting times in Spain. Photo: Doiler Sanjuan / Pixabay

Where you live in Spain greatly affects the amount of time you’ll have to wait, from the first appointment with your family doctor to seeing a specialist and even through to an operation, if you need one. 

Two and half years after the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, which almost brought the country’s clinics and hospitals to breaking point, how is the situation now?

Here are the average waiting times in each region of the country, with data published by the regional health authorities. 

In Andalusia, the average wait time to see a doctor is four days. To see a specialist such as a dermatologist or a cardiologist, however, you will be waiting three months. Wait times for non-urgent surgeries vary depending on what you need. 

Those living in Aragón will typically be able to get a doctor’s appointment within three days, but to see a specialist, it is one of the worst regions in the country, with an average waiting time of four months.

The latest waiting times to see a doctor or a specialist in Asturias have not yet been published, but if you need a special test such as an MRI, you will be waiting more than three months.

Balearic Islands
In the Balearics, the average waiting time for an appointment to see your GP is one week, while if you need to see a specialist, you will be waiting around two months. For a non-urgent surgery, you will be on the waiting list for an average of four and a half months. The Balearic Islands are one of the worst places if you need a diagnostic test though with an average wait of more than six months. 

Basque Country
Data from the Basque Country has so far not been made available. 

Canary Islands
Like in Aragón, the Canary Islands is one of the worst places to live if you need to see a specialist with the longest waiting time of more than four months.

Cantabria has so far not updated its data on waiting times to see a specialist, but if you need a non-urgent surgery it has one of the longest waiting times at six months.

Those in Castilla-La-Mancha have one of the shortest wait times to see a GP, being able to book an appointment within just 48 hours. They’ll have to wait longer to see a specialist, however, with an average wait of two months. Those waiting for non-urgent surgery will be waiting another four months.

Castilla y León
In Castilla y León you’ll wait an average of six days before being given an appointment and two months to see a specialist.

Residents of Spain’s northeastern region wait an average of five days in order to get a doctor’s appointment. For diagnostic tests, the wait time depends on what you need. You will be on the list for five months on average for a colonoscopy and two months for an MRI.

If you need to see a specialist again it will completely depend on what type of specialist you need to see. For example, if you need to see a urologist you’ll have to wait five months, but if you need to see a neurologist you’ll be able to get an appointment in less than three months. If your doctor thinks you require non-urgent surgery, you will need to wait another four and half months.

In Extremadura, you’ll have to wait an average of four days for an appointment, while the waiting time to see a specialist will be around two months. Like Cantabria, Extremadura is one of the worst places to live if you need non-urgent surgery, as you’ll be waiting around half a year.

Those in Galicia will be able to see a doctor in just three days, however, they have not published recent data on the wait time to see a specialist. They have however published data for non-urgent surgery which is an average wait of three months.

Like in Galicia, in Madrid the waiting time for an appointment is just three days, but two months to see a specialist. For a test like an ultrasound or a CT scan, you will be waiting two months. If you need a non-urgent surgery, you’ll be on the waitlist for a further three months.

The average wait time to see your GP has not been made available yet, but like in Andalusia, you’ll be waiting more than three months if you need to see a specialist. It’s one of the best regions for wait times for diagnostic tests though as you will be waiting less than one month. 

Navarre has one of the shortest wait times for an appointment, available in just 48 hours. If you need to see a specialist, you’ll be waiting a further two months. Those waiting for a non-urgent surgery will have to wait an average of three months.  

La Rioja
Along with Castilla-La Mancha and Navarre, La Rioja has the shortest wait time to get a doctor’s appointment. Here, you’ll be able to see your GP in just 48 hours. This region is also the best to live in if you need to see a specialist or get a specialised test, with a wait of less than one month. If you need non-urgent surgery though it’s not so good, as you’ll be waiting an average of four months.

Those living in Valencia have the longest wait out of all the regions for an appointment, where you’ll wait more than a month just to see a GP. When it comes to seeing a specialist you’ll need to wait another three months. And if you need surgery, you will have to wait four and half months on top of that.

The types of non-urgent surgeries the data refers to are hip and knee replacements. For other types of surgeries, it will depend on how urgent it is and what type of surgery it is. At the beginning of the year, there were more than 706,000 people waiting for an operation in Spain, according to data from the Ministry of Health.

You should be aware, however, that official data doesn’t always represent reality. Some readers have told us that currently, they are having to wait a month to see their GP in Catalonia and seven months to see a specialist.

Member comments

  1. I’m in the Valencia region. Last time I made an appointment to see my doctor I got one within an hour. I had to rush just to get ready!

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Spain to make school dinners healthier

The Spanish government aims to improve children's health by ensuring a minimum quality standard for school lunches, proposing that they contain at least 45 percent fruit and vegetables.

Spain to make school dinners healthier

Spain’s Ministry of Consumer Affairs, headed up by Alberto Garzón, proposed a new draft bill on Thursday in a bid to improve nutrition in schools.

The new law aims to promote a quality, healthy and sustainable diet for youngsters and states that school meals contain a minimum of 45 percent fruit and vegetables.  

Currently, each of Spain’s regions has its own rules regarding school dinners and Garzón wants to make sure that minimum quality standards are set across the country.

In addition to promoting the Mediterranean diet and using fresh and local food the draft bills states that:

  • Food should be cooked in healthier ways, such as baked, steamed or grilled, as opposed to battered or fried.
  • At least 5 percent of the meal should be organic or sustainably produced.
  • Extra virgin olive oil should be used for salad dressings, while only sunflower oil or cooking olive oil should be used for frying.
  • Salt, sugar, flavour enhancers and concentrates should be reduced.
  • Tap water should be available for drinking.

READ ALSO – KEY STATS: What you need to know about Spain’s mega farms

The draft will be debated, and suggestions and modifications can be added over the next 15 days before it is passed onto parliament, where it is expected to be approved sometime during the first half of 2023. If approved, the new law will come into force for the 2024-2025 school year.

Despite the fact that Spain is known for its Mediterranean diet, much of its cuisine is fried (particularly tapas) and contains red meat. Main meals as part of the menús del día rarely contain any vegetables.

READ ALSO – OPINION: Spain is ready to give up cancer-causing jamón… and pigs might fly

According to a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Spain has one of the highest childhood obesity rates in the EU, where 40 percent are considered overweight. Obesity levels among children in Spain have doubled in the past 20 years.

In July 2022, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced an eight-year plan to help reduce these rates in children and this draft bill is just one of the ways the Spanish government plans on doing so.

Spain’s Ministry of Consumer Affairs has already regulated the advertising of sweets, energy drinks and confectionary products aimed at children, while Garzón has been trying to encourage Spaniards to eat more healthily for the last few years.

In January 2022 Garzón caused an uproar when he said that meat from Spanish mega-farms was of bad quality and further anger was aimed at him back in July 2021, when he urged the population to consume less meat.