PATIENTS waiting for elective surgeries at Alicante Province hospitals are being referred to private operators to cut the backlog of operations.

Health Ministry budgets for procedures to be done in private hospitals have gone this year to €22- up €7 million on 2022, when private referrals in the area rose by 30% compared to 2021.

As of last December, 23,733 people are waiting for an operation, with a quarter on the list for over six months.

The total is 25% higher than in 2020- the first year of the Covid pandemic.

Traumatology, General Surgery, and Opthalmology department procedures account for over two-thirds of people who are waiting.

The longest delays of up to 15 months are for hip and knee surgeries in hospitals at Alicante, Alcoy, and Elche.

Besides paying private hospitals to take patients, overtime is being paid to staff to carry out procedures at weekends and evenings.

Off-peak evening surgeries went up by over 60% last year.

The Health Ministry reiterated that surgical waiting times do not apply to emergencies, oncological and other non-delayable procedures.

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