Health system

Cancer/ heart surgery waiting times “exceed limits established by law” – regulator

Some waiting times in 2023 were exceeded by as much as 89%

Today it is simply presented as a report by health regulatory body ERS – but what it says about public health response to some of the most devastating diagnoses anyone can ever receive is dismal

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

According to an analysis by ERS on waiting times in the SNS State health service in the first half of 2023, 30,697 scheduled operations for cancers were carried out in public hospitals – 1% less than in the same period in 2022. 

Around 19% were treated with waiting times longer than those established in the legislation and, on June 30, 2023, more than 7,000 patients were waiting for scheduled surgery in oncology – 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 corresponded 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 30 last year, 2,649 patients were waiting for heart surgery, 57% of whom were waiting longer than the TMRG.

As to other areas, TMRG was exceeded in 50% of consultations carried out – and on June 30, 2023 there were 707,330 patients waiting for their first consultation, 47% of whom had been waiting longer than recommended (no indications given so far on how much longer)

With regard to first consultations for suspected or confirmed oncological diseases, ERS reveals these were exceeded in 60% of consultations carried out in the first six months of last year, at the same time that 9,014 patients were waiting for their first consultation with a suspected or confirmed oncological disease.

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

In the area of cardiology, waiting times were exceeded in 89% of cases.

The ERS reports that 17,659 patients were waiting for their first cardiology appointment at the end of June last year, 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 the report, the health regulator adds that, with regard to primary healthcare, “it remains difficult to obtain data that would allow us to assess non-compliance with the TMRG for healthcare services analysed, in the different health regions”.

Source: LUSA