• A backlog of more than four and a half months with over 67,000 patients to undergo surgery
  • The specialties with the longest delay are paediatric, plastic, neurosurgery, spinal and trauma injuries.

With the easing of lockdown and the gradual reduction in coronavirus cases the new crisis that will shortly be facing the regions hospitals will be the enormous backlog of operations in the Valencian Community with the waiting time for surgery now exceeding four and a half months, and with  total of 66,973 patients waiting to be called.

In a resolution issued on March 12, the Ministry of Health ordered the suspension or delay of scheduled surgical interventions, non-preferred outpatient consultations, non-preferred diagnostic tests and scheduled admissions, in order to meet the emergency created by the arrival of coronavirus.

The result has been that the average delay has now gone from 80 days in February, to 97 days in March, to 126 days at the end of April, while the number of those waiting have also increased from 61,793 in February to 66,345 in March and 66,973 for April.

In April there were 25,812 patients who have been waiting for an appointment for surgery for up to 90 days, 23,706 between 91 and 180 days and 17,455 waiting for more than 180 days.

The departments with the longest delay are the Provincial Hospital of Castellón, with 215 days; followed by Castelló, with 168; the General de València and Sant Joan de Alicante, with 165; the Vinarós, with 157; the General of Alicante, with 150; La Fe, with 135; Ontinyent, with 128; Alcoi, with 119; Dénia, with 116; La Plana, with 108; La Ribera, with 122; the Clinic, with 107 and the Marina Baixa with 104.

Here in the Vega Baja, however, were are rather better blessed with the anticipated waiting times at Elche hospital 81 days, Torrevieja, with 85 and Orihuela with 97.

The specialties suffering from the longest delays are paediatric surgery with 180 days; plastic, 179; neurosurgery, 171; spinal, 160; traumatology, 147; reconstructive surgery, 125; urology, 121; vascular, 116; ear, nose and throat, 114; general surgery, 112 days; gynaecology, 104 days; dermatology, 89 and cardiovascular surgery 88 days.

The Minister of Health, Ana Barceló , acknowledged on Tuesday that it will take “a long time” before the Community can reduce the waiting lists to those that existed before the coronavirus pandemic, saying that it will have to be done “in stages”.

Barceló explained that they are preparing a plan to return to normality in healthcare, which she hopes to present “soon”, but stressed that the two conventions must be “made compatible”: de-escalation and how to resume normality “as far as possible”

At the moment, operations that are urgent and not delayed continue to be carried out and the rest will recover “as the pandemic evolves.”