NOBODY has to wait more than six months for an operation in the Balearics, according to Sergio Beltran, the director general of Ib-Salud (the Balearic health service), who said that in July 2003, there were 633 patients who had been waiting that long.
He said that cutting waiting lists had been the main priority of the new health service team, and targets have been achieved by performing more operations and arranging priorities better. Beltrán said that the figures were for operations which were not urgent, and excluded some, such as those for obesity, for which there are currently 40 patients, who have been waiting for more than six months.
He added that this list should be cleared before the end of the year.
Beltrán also explained that the waiting list for general surgery, 10'623 patients, in the first six months of the year, is ten percent lower than the same period last year.
The average waiting list for an operation has been reduced by 14 days, from 78.8 to 65 days.
During this period, operations performed under the Balearic health service have increased by three percent compared to the same period last year, with an additional 4'000 operations.
Luis Alegre, the subdirector, gave a run down of the operations per hospital, pointing out that the total number of patients on the waiting lists of Son Dureta and Son Llatzer in Palma and the Manacor hospital had gone down, while it remained stable in the others.
The average wait in all operations, with the exception of Son Llatzer, had gone down between July 2003 and July 2004. For example, he said, the waiting time for an operation in Manacor had gone down from 119 to 51 days, while that at Son Llatzer had gone up from 64 to 70 days.
But, he pointed out, not all the facilities at Son Llatzer are open yet.
There is a waiting period of more than 50 days for operations such as abdominal hernia, gall stones, varicose veins and cataracts.
Beltran said that the number of consultations in the first six months of the year was 40'000, an increase of six percent, and the list of people waiting for appointments was 34'874, up by 1.9 percent.
He attributed this to the increase in population as the number of people entitled to use the health service rose from 916'300 in December to nearly 940'000 in September.
Explaining the strategy followed to reduce the waiting list, Ginés Martinez, who is the co-ordinator, said that operating theatres had been used in the afternoons, and there had been greater collaboration between hospitals. It was a question of using all the surgeons and all the operating theatres possible, he said, adding that special units had been opened, as well as four operating theatres in the General Hospital, and facilities at private hospitals had been used under an agreement.