07 de març 2013

Still waiting after all these months

Waiting lists may be considered the most prominent consequence of a publicly funded health system. Without price barriers, the queue for an operation may take months. Data to compare the situation of waiting lists between countries is not that easy to find. However, in the last report by OECD you can get the indicator of how many patients were waiting for more than 4 months in several countries. Take a look at this OECD report (p.42). Only one country in its worst year achieved 41% (UK).
Right now data show that we have the record.  The latest information (p.7) highlights that 100% of interventions for elective surgery required waiting for more than 4 months during 2012. This represents 1,63 more months than in 2011. That's a lot. The number of persons waiting is 93,2 per 10.000 inhabitants (70.814), but 5.000 patients that were on the list and tired of waiting declined the intervention once they were allocated them to a hospital (unfortunately, there is no information about the impact or how they have solved it).
Definitely, waiting lists is a hot topic. they should be fixed and indicators should be close to international standards. Right now we are far, too far away.