The delays for the operating room are reduced in the hospitals Santa Lucía de Cartagena, the regional hospital of the Northwest, Los Arcos del Mar Menor and that of Vega Media Lorenzo Guirao
The Murcian Health Service (SMS) has responded to the high demand for surgeries after the pandemic with a growth in surgical activity of 6.7 percent more than in December 2021, which means that 87,109 patients left the list surgical waiting.
Despite the increase in activity, a total of 92,995 people entered the system in 2022 to undergo surgery, according to the latest SMS delay report. This is the highest demand that the regional health system has experienced since the data was collected, according to Royal Decree 605/2003.
If we compare the data with respect to December 2021, admissions have increased by 9,112 more patients, which translates into an increase of 11 percent.
“We have experienced an unprecedented entry of patients into the health system after the pandemic throughout Spain,” explained the managing director of the SMS, Francisco Ponce, who added that “the commitment of the regional government is to reduce delays and continue offering a health service of quality in all our regional hospitals”.
«We continue with an average time to undergo an intervention of less than 150 days as established by Royal Decree 25/2006 on Guarantees of the Region of Murcia, and also below the national average, after the latest information published by the Ministry of Health, “added Ponce.
The SMS manager pointed out that “although we have increased health activity, the extraordinary situation caused by the pandemic has caused waiting times to increase.”
On the other hand, he expressed his gratitude “to all the health professionals who are facing the increase in demand with greater activity. The commitment is that, during 2023, with the budgetary measures put in place, waiting times will be reduced.
According to data from the SMS, four specialties (Angiology and Vascular Surgery, Cardiac Surgery, Gynecology and Traumatology) improve their lead times, with an average of 45 days less waiting.
As for hospitals, surgical delays are shortened in Santa Lucía de Cartagena, the Northwest regional hospital (Caravaca), Los Arcos del Mar Menor and the Vega Media Lorenzo Guirao hospital.
More demand in external consultations
As has happened with the surgical waiting list, outpatient clinics have experienced the highest intake of patients in their historical series, with 62,162 more.
To counteract this increase, the SMS increased its activity by 15.3 percent, and attended 73,377 more patients in 2022 than the previous year.
According to the data corresponding to December 2022, 13 specialties improve their delays: Cardiology, Maxillofacial Surgery, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Thoracic Surgery, Geriatrics, Hematology, Internal Medicine, Nephrology, Neurology, Medical Oncology, Radiation Oncology, and Anesthesia and Resuscitation with a regional average decrease of 47 days.
The study by hospitals also reveals a very significant improvement in the Virgen del Castillo de Yecla hospital, with 51 days less than average waiting time.
As for diagnostic tests, and in line with the rest of the SMS services, there was a notable increase in requests: 48,918 more compared to 2021, eight percent more. However, activity has grown by 10 percent, thanks to which 52,006 more people have left the waiting list if we compare the data with 2021.
Budget for delays and personnel
The Ministry of Health has budgeted 22 million euros for this year, 12 more than the previous year, to reduce waiting times. In this way, surgical activity, consultations and diagnostic tests will be increased with its own personnel.
Since the start of the pandemic, the number of professionals has increased by 3,513, 14.75 percent more staff. Currently 27,285 professionals are part of the SMS staff, which means that the regional public health system has 618 more physicians compared to March 2020.
Currently, a total of 6,447 doctors provide services in both Primary and Hospital Care. Nursing staff has increased by 1,267, reaching 7,925 professionals.
The SMS manager explained that “after the pandemic, throughout the national territory, an increase in demand has been detected throughout the health system. From the SMS, we are making an additional effort in those areas that present the greatest difficulties to cover certain positions for physicians, and thus improve delay times”.
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