Patients wait 7.3 weeks for examination by specialist

This is a problem especially in the case of urgent patients, says the organisation protecting their rights.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: SME)

A survey recently carried out has confirmed the complaints of patients who have a long wait for an examination by medical specialists. On average, they have to wait 7.3 weeks for an appointment, according to the survey conducted by GfK agency for the Association for Protection of Patients’ Rights (AOPP) at the end of last year.

“It is unthinkable that people with urgent problems cannot make it to the specialist sooner than in few weeks’ time,” said Mária Lévyová, chair of AOPP, as quoted by the SITA newswire.

The organisation thus recommends patients to turn to their health insurer to help them find specialists with shorter waiting periods.

Nearly half of the respondents in the survey were dissatisfied with the current quality of health-care treatment. As much as 37 percent of them complained about very long waiting periods. Moreover, every fourth respondent pointed to problems he or she had when trying to arrange the appointment.

Nearly one-third of patients wait for an appointment with a specialist for less than one week, while another third waits two to four weeks and about 15 percent of patients wait more than three months, SITA reported.

The waiting periods for special examinations are legitimate, AOPP claimed, adding that no country can fully cover health care demands. The long waiting periods, however, should apply only to treatment that can wait.

“We know that the number of certain civilisation diseases is increasing, so specialists have many patients who urgently need help,” Lévyová said, as quoted by SITA.

In addition, the number of people in the post-productive age, and who require more treatment than young people, is increasing. There is also a lack of specialists in some places around Slovakia, despite some doctors practising past retirement age, she added.

Since other organisations active in health care also point to the lack of specialists, the state should define a minimum network of specialists who would be able to cover patients’ needs, AOPP suggests.

About 70 percent of the survey respondents are willing to pay for appointments to be sooner but not everybody can afford it, Lévyová warned, as reported by SITA.

Health Minister Tomáš Drucker meanwhile admitted there are regions that lack certain specialisations. The ministry has already launched talks with some regional authorities and health insurers to map the situation. They also broadened the so-called residential programme with selected attestations of specialists.

He also reminded of the ministry’s plan to change some fees, SITA wrote.

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