Monday, 21 January 2013
Three hours delay.
What a morning we had at our local Spanish health centre in Orihuela Costa.
It was necessary for my wife to have an appointment with our doctor today. Natalie has been unwell for the last week. Using the health system online booking service we managed to arrange a consultation for 11:15 a.m. Although we knew that she probably wouldn't been seen until after the appointed time we were seated in the doctors waiting room at 11:05 a.m.
With the large number of other patients waiting we suspected we were in for a bit of a wait – were we!
It was not until 2:20 p.m. - over three hours later – that we were to be seated in front of the doctor. Yes I have written that correctly: we had to wait for over three hours to be face to face with the doctor. We couldn't abandon Natalie's allotted slot and make another appointment for later in the week as she needed to get some medication without any further delay to relieve her symptoms.
It was not the doctor's fault for the delay but it was that of the system. Three separate appointments are made for the same time slot. There was a continuous flow of patients in and out of the consulting room during the whole of the time we were there.
As the morning progressed and the period of delay between the times of the patients booked appointments and actual consultations increased peoples' level of frustration of waiting increased. Several people completed official health system complaint forms. There was a degree of comradery developing amongst the patients, from a variety of countries, in helping others in completing the forms about the inadequate appointments system.
After just ten minutes with the doctor we left her room, with the necessary prescriptions for the important medication, with a great feeling of relief for ourselves and sorrow for those still enduring the long wait.
It is totally unacceptable to have to endure a three hour delay for a confirmed appointment because of a policy of allocating three patients to the same time slot. It would seem that there is an inadequate number of doctors due to insufficient funding of the health system within the Valencia region of Spain.