Around 19% of cancer surgeries performed beyond the recommended waiting time

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Around 19% of cancer patients who underwent surgery in public hospitals in the first six months of last year were treated with waiting times longer than those established by law, a percentage that rises to 32% for heart surgery.

According to an analysis by the Health Regulatory Authority (ERS) on waiting times in the National Health Service (SNS) in the first half of 2023, 30,697 scheduled surgeries were carried out in public hospitals in the area of oncology, which is 1% less than in the same period in 2022.

Around 19% were treated with waiting times longer than those established in the legislation and, as of June 30, 2023, more than 7,000 users were waiting for scheduled surgery in the oncology area, 18% of whom were waiting longer than the Guaranteed Maximum Response Times (TMRG).

In the same period, 4,752 scheduled heart disease surgeries were carried out in public hospitals, which corresponds to an increase of 8% compared to the first half of 2022.

Of the total number of patients undergoing heart surgery, 32% were treated with a wait longer than the TMRG.

On June 30th of last year, 2,649 patients were waiting for heart surgery, 57% of whom were waiting longer than the TMRG.

Pointing out that with regard to hospital consultations scheduled and carried out in SNS hospitals, “due to constraints arising from hospital computer systems”, only the first hospital consultations scheduled and carried out at the request of primary health care were analyzed, the ERS warns that this analysis does not take into account consultations arising from internal hospital requests or external requests from other hospitals.

“[This] monitoring focuses, on average, on around 35% of consultations carried out in SNS hospitals,” reads the analysis to which the Lusa news agency had access today.

Excluding the cardiac and oncology areas, in the first half of 2023, 668,565 first hospital specialty consultations were carried out in public hospitals at the request of primary health care, which means an increase of 14% compared to the same period in 2022.

The TMRGs were exceeded in 50% of appointments and on June 30, 2023 there were 707,330 users waiting for their first appointment, 47% of whom were waiting longer than recommended.

With regard to first consultations for suspected or confirmed cancer, 15,559 consultations were carried out in public hospitals in the first six months of 2023.

In this analysis, ERS points out that the evolution in the number of cancer consultations carried out in public hospitals in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022 was not assessed.

This is because, in the first half of 2022, the Electronic Health Record in the Integrated Access Management System (RSE-SIGA) “was not yet in the implementation phase”.

But as for the TMRG, the ERS points out that they were exceeded by 60% of the consultations carried out in the first six months of last year, at the same time that 9,014 users were waiting for their first consultation with a suspected or confirmed oncological disease.

In this case, the waiting times recommended by law were exceeded for 73% of waiting users.

In the area of cardiology, 21,894 first consultations were carried out in public hospitals, an increase of 17% compared to the first half of 2022, and the TMRG was exceeded by 89%.

The ERS reports that 17,659 users were waiting for their first cardiology appointment at the end of June, an increase of 34% compared to the end of the first half of 2022, and that 83% were waiting longer than the recommended times.

In this report, the health regulator points out that, with regard to primary healthcare, “it remains difficult to obtain data that would allow us to measure non-compliance with the TMRG for the healthcare services analyzed, in the different health regions”.

Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi

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