Due to the exceptional coronavirus measures, to relieve hospitals and stop the possible spread, surgeries that are not lifesaving have been postponed. Since the decreased capacity of hospitals, the number of other types of surgeries went down too in 2020, and with that, the waiting lists significantly grew. The waiting time for some surgeries can reach over a year, and it is not likely to decrease soon.
For some surgeries, one had to wait far too long, even before the pandemic but after the outbreak, the waiting lists just became even longer – Pénzcentrum reports. In the summer, specialist practices could reopen and not acute operations could continue, too, but due to the second wave during the autumn, the situation is now even worse than before.
According to data from the National Health Insurance Fund of Hungary (Nemzeti Egészségbiztosítási Alapkezelő, NEAK), at the beginning of June, the waiting time for a knee replacement surgery was on average 389 days, while now at the beginning of January it is 471 days. For a hip replacement surgery, the waiting time went from 324 to 371 days, and for a laparoscopic gallbladder surgery from 127 to 177 days.
But the longest waiting time is for small urologic surgeries with 436 days, for transcatheter aortic valve surgery with 516 days, and for cornea eye surgery with 843 days – that is two years and four months.
According to data from NEAK, the average planned and maximum waiting time increased for all surgeries, except for cornea eye surgeries. The increase, however, was expected and experts say it could continue in the case of some surgeries even after the pandemic.
One problem is that part of the doctors older than 65 years will not return to work. On the other hand, the patients on the waiting lists went to their doctors during the pandemic. Many other people will potentially need surgery in the future but have not been seen by a doctor yet. It is likely that those who were held back by the pandemic and possible infections will only visit their doctors after it is gone. Once we reach that point and the waiting lists will reach maximum, it will take a lot of time to do all the needed surgeries and decrease waiting times.