Patients had to wait nine days on average to see their family doctor in the last year

Patients had to wait nine days on average to see their family doctor in the last year

The average waiting time to be seen by a doctor or family doctor in Spain was nine days in the last year and one in four patients had to wait more than 11. This is revealed by the first health barometer published this Thursday by the Center for Sociological Research (CIS), which analyzes opinion about the public health system and was held between March 18 and 25. There will be two other waves.

The congestion of public health with COVID-19 gives private health insurance the biggest boost in a decade

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Despite the long delays in Primary Care, the survey shows a good satisfaction of the Spaniards with public health. Respondents say they received "good or very good care" in 80% of cases in health centers and emergencies. And the percentage rises to more than 90% in the case of hospitals. The best valued services are the 061 and 112 emergencies with a 7.54. At the opposite extreme are the specialists, although the note is more than a pass, a 6.27.

However, most would make changes to the system. Only 16% consider that it works "fairly well", almost the same percentage of those who consider that it is going "badly" (11%). Almost half of the respondents are somewhere in the middle: they admit that the operation is good but “some changes are needed”.

Preference for the public

Even though private insurance has had the highest growth for a decade in 2021 and in Spain there are already more than 11 million mutual members, the first health barometer after the pandemic shows a majority preference for public health. Three out of four would go to a public hospital in case of admission, 73% would choose the public one for an emergency and 68% for family medicine and paediatrics. The percentage is more balanced in the case of specialists: just over half of those surveyed would opt for public roads “if they could choose”, according to the question asked in the survey.

Misperception about waiting lists

The perception of the status of the waiting lists for operations, specialists and tests is poor. More than 40% of the population think that the problem has worsened and 33% that it remains the same. According to the latest national data, corresponding to June 2021, the average wait for surgery was the same as in December 2019 (121 days), slightly less than the 171 that were registered in the second half of 2020. The delay to be attended by the specialist also seems to be in decline compared to the toughest years of the pandemic when hospitals were filled with people with severe pneumonia from SARS-CoV-2 and were forced to suspend surgeries, tests and specialized consultations.

The answers also reveal how the coronavirus has changed the way patients are cared for. 76% of the population had a telephone appointment with their doctor in the last 12 months, although half say that it cannot be explained as well as face-to-face, and a third thinks that all consultations should be face-to-face. However, more than half would use the video call to communicate with their doctor if it was offered to them.

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