- Doctors say that they foresee a greater increase in summer when consultations are resumed but surgical activity is reduced.
- Sant Joan in Alicante has a wait of up to nine months for general surgery.
The average waiting time for patients undergoing scheduled surgery in the province of Alicante has increased from 79 days in February to 130 days in May, due to the stoppage of non-essential surgical activity during the health crisis caused by covid -19 .
These figures are reflected in the latest data published by the Ministry of Health, which includes the waiting times of each of the 10 health departments in the province.
The delay has doubled during March, April and May. However, specialists fear that the wait will be even longer in the coming months because, as specialty consultations and face-to-face consultations have been resumed, many new patients will be referred to surgical services, in much higher numbers than the number of operations able to be performed.
To this must be added the traditional decrease in the surgical activity of hospitals during the summer months due to the holidays taken by medical personnel.
Although the average delay in the province is 130 days, the data by health departments varies enormously. The department of San Joan in Alicante is the one with the greatest delay, with patients currently having to wait an average of 206 days to undergo surgery.
At the other extreme is the Vinalopó Hospital in Elche, which despite doubling its waiting times by a substantial margin compared to February, stood at 83 days in May, the lowest figure not only in the province of Alicante, but in the entire Valencian Community, where the average wait amounts to 150 days of delay.
Between the two extremes are the health departments of Dénia (135 days), Alcoy (140), Marina Baixa (129), Elda (108), Hospital General de Alicante (166), General Hospital of Elche (119), Orihuela (120) and Torrevieja (90).
To mitigate the impact that the pandemic has had in terms of surgical waiting times, several hospitals in the province are already working on a shock plan to increase activity in their operating theatres. The criterion is based on a scale that includes the time they have been on the list and the severity of their medical condition.
A spokesman from the General Hospital of Elche said that theatres are already operating at 100% of their capacity, and the possibility is being offered to patients to have their surgery carried out in private hospitals that have agreements with the Ministry of Health.
In Elche the average delay has increased from 44 days in February, to the current 119 days.
Ribera Salud, that manages the Hospital de Vinalopó and Hospital de Torrevieja, have also said that they have been applying measures to reduce waiting times following the state of alarm, progressively resuming surgical activity until it reached 100% of its surgical activity in June.
The two hospitals have the lowest average waiting time data in the Community, both before and after the pandemic, concluding that “we continue working to meet Ribera Salud’s goal of 45 days of average surgical delay.” In February, Torrevieja accumulated an average of 38 days and the Hospital del Vinalopó 37, according to Health.
The waiting lists show an even greater disparity according to the surgical speciality. A trauma patient at the Hospital de San Joan will wait an average of 276 days to undergo surgery, more than nine months, while in the same hospital, in the dermatology area, the wait is reduced to 84 days, four times less.
In general meanwhile, traumatology and urology are the specialties with the longest delay both in the province and in the Valencian Community.