The waiting lists in Catalan public health they are more fired than ever. The coronavirus pandemic has aggravated, even more, a social problem that Catalonia had dragged on for decades, largely because of the cuts approved in 2010 by the Government of the former Convergència i Unió (now PDECat). He mean waiting time has increased by 62% to access the diagnostic tests, a 52% to visit the specialist and a 52,3% for the surgical interventions between December 2019 and May of this year, the last month for which the Servei Català de la Salut (CatSalut) offers figures. CatSalut sources attribute this delay to a “technical incident” and claim to be working to update the data.
But sometimes these increases are up to 70% and even 90% more if the focus is placed on tests, queries and concrete operations. For example, if in December of last year you had to wait 60 days for a gynecological ultrasound, in May of this 2020 the wait was 117 days (95% more). Another example: if in December you wait for an appointment with the dermatologist was 84 days, in May it was 141 (68% more). And another: if in December you had to wait 75 days to have surgery waterfalls, last May we had to wait 142 (89% more).
More indicative than the number of patients waiting to have these tests performed is the mean waiting time, a number that better reflects how the system has been slowing down and winning on delays. And it has skyrocketed in virtually all ailments, serious and not serious. Those who now have to have surgery juanetes they will have to wait 262 days (compared to 197 in December, 33% more). Who should go to traumatologist They will wait 168 days (compared to 106 in the past, 58.5% more). But the CatSalut data published up to May also have another alarming reading: in the surgeries of malignant neoplasms (cancers) the average waiting time has increased by 41.7% between December and May. The one that has grown the most is the waiting time for surgery pancreatic cancer: if in December it was 18 days, in May it was 52 (189% more). After that of Fondling: It has gone from 19 to 52 days (173.7% more). And then that of skin: increased from 22 to 45 days (an increase of 104.5%).
There is 70% more wait for mammograms, that are part of the early detection programs for tumors
The covid-19 pandemic forced in May, in hospitals and primary care centers (CAP), to postpone non-urgent consultations and surgeries. The urgent, such as heart attacks or strokes, never stopped being attended. But there are many tests that, for example, are part of screening programs tumor prevention, such as mammograms (breast cancer) or colonoscopies (colon cancer). Health experts fear an increase in cases of these diseases and even their mortality in the coming years because they have not been diagnosed early. The figures undoubtedly invite concern: for a colonoscopy, for example, an average of 162 days had to be expected in May, compared to 109 in December (48.62% more). For one mammography, In May, you had to wait 109 days, compared to 64 at the end of 2019 (70% more).
“The system was already working 100%”
“We were bad and we are getting worse. The predictable has come true. There are pathologies that are treated with such excess of waiting, that it will end up taking its toll ” Josep Maria Puig, General Secretary of the Metges de Catalunya (MC) union. According to him, before the pandemic, the system was already working “at 100%”, so “it was evident that any ups and downs, and more of this magnitude, would destabilize it.” “For most tests the waiting time has gone up a 50%. Now the flu will come, which will make everything worse because primary care is already collapsed. In a year we will have the waiting time doubled for urgent tests “, he predicts.
Waiting lists are a “historical problem” Catalunya health, says Puig. “And the crash plan would be simple: put more money for the system to pay the professionals. Another thing is the political will to find that money, “he believes. He complains that the Generalitat has increased its 2010 budget by 30%, a rise from which” nothing “has reached the Ministry of Health. “Health is 1% below the 2010 budget”, he complains.
Salut approved a plan in July to address this problem, but does not specify what the budget is
At the moment, Salut does not explain how much money it has put on the table to specifically address the problem of waiting lists. CatSalut approved on July 13 a multi-year program to recover hospital activity, which will last until 2021. But CatSalut does not specify to this newspaper what the budget for this plan is, despite assuring that it does have an economic endowment.
“This plan serves to stimulate economically organizations to do not only surgical activity, but also diagnostic tests. With two views: on the one hand, that clinically relevant activity and, on the other, that more banal, that is, that does not put people’s health at risk “, he explains Xenia Acebes, Director of the CatSalut Assistance Area. According to Acebes, although CatSalut does not offer data on waiting lists from May, from that month until September, the system is “recovering activity.” He assures that in August he had arrived “80% of last year’s activity.”