The Association in Defense of Public Health denounces the delay in the publication of the waiting list statistics and the abandonment of the SMS Results Observatory since 2019. The Ministry promised to renew this website in the first quarter of this year
The Murcian Health Service (SMS) is now less transparent than a few years ago, according to the complaint by the Association in Defense of Public Health (ADSP) in a report published this Friday. The waiting list statistics have not been updated since last June despite the fact that the Ministry promised to provide information on the monthly evolution of delays. Added to this is the abandonment of the SMS Results Observatory, a project promoted by former managing director Asensio López that has been inactive since the pandemic. This initiative was intended to offer more information on resources, activity and, above all, health results. The Ministry promised to renew the website of this observatory throughout the first quarter of this year, including new indicators adapted “to the post-pandemic reality”. At the moment, the latest data available is from 2019. Public Health Defense also denounces the lack of light and stenographers in Primary. There are no open, available and updated official data on delays in the first level of care, nor in Mental Health or Physiotherapy.
«It is a right of citizens to have updated information on the public health system. It is very worrying and we denounce the fact that the information on the population served, existing resources, activity in both Primary and Specialized Care, perceived quality and spending, which was available in the Results Observatory, has not been updated since December 2019,” he warns. the ADSP.
The association also points out that “the quality and transparency of information on the waiting list has deteriorated alarmingly since December 2019, worsening since June 2022, the last date for which information is available.” In this sense, the report questions “the reliability of the available data” due to “the high percentage of patients without an assigned date.” They are people who have requested a consultation with a specialist, or a diagnostic test, but have not yet been cited. The previous managing director of the SMS, Asensio López, promised to gradually eliminate this practice and, in fact, the number of patients who were in this situation decreased until the pandemic arrived. Since then, however, this situation has spread again: three out of ten patients who waited their turn for a first appointment with the specialist in June did not have an assigned date. The same happened to 51% of those who remained waiting for a diagnostic test. In this case, however, there is a reduction in this practice compared to previous years.
In total, 65,269 patients did not have an assigned appointment in June, a figure far removed from the commitments made at the time by the SMS and the Ministry of Health. The high percentages of patients pending due dates “make it very likely that waiting times are greatly underestimated,” underlines the ADSP. There are also large differences between areas. While in Vega Media and Murcia Este there were only 1% of patients without an appointment in June, in the Mar Menor it reached 75%.
Beyond the possible underestimation of which the ADSP warns, the June statistics reflected a clear increase in delays in regional public health. Murcians waited an average of 91 days for a surgical intervention at that time, nine days more than in the same month of the previous year. Most surgical specialties experienced increases. The situation was no better in outpatient clinics, where the average wait went from 87 days to 93. A total of 88,993 patients in June exceeded the maximum waiting times set by the regional government itself (150 days for surgery, 50 for a first consultation with the specialist and 30 for a test). This means that there were 33,851 more people than the previous year with delays beyond the established deadlines.
Despite all these data, Salud assured that the statistics reflected a “positive evolution” of the waiting lists in the Region, “with a reduction in delays in most specialties.” In order to defend this conclusion, the Ministry compared the data for June with that for December, despite the fact that these are two very different times of the year from the point of view of care.
The ADSP analyzes in its report the evolution between June 2019 and June 2022, and highlights that the waiting time in Surgery goes from 79 to 91 days, and in specialty consultations it rises from 61 to 92 days on average. During the period analyzed “there has been a significant increase in patients on the surgical waiting list (from 22,353 to 27,635), on the waiting list for specialist consultations (from 92,483 to 110,052) and especially on the waiting list for diagnostic tests (from 40,312 to 64,232)”, the report states. In addition, “the percentage of patients waiting for more than 150 days on the surgical waiting list has gone from 12% to 16%.” The percentage of patients with more than 30 days on the waiting list for diagnostic tests also increased: from 63% to 71%, which represents an increase of 16 points. Meanwhile, the proportion of patients who wait more than 50 days for the first consultation with the specialist “remains at 79%.” The report recalls that, despite these increases, waiting times in regional public healthcare remain below the national average.
Faced with criticism for the delay in the publication of the waiting list data, the Ministry points out that the Ministry “updates the lists twice a year, and the SMS is working to publish them soon”
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