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Queues to specialist doctors at the National Health Fund were supposed to be shorter, and the opposite is true. The health ministry blames the COVID-19 epidemic

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There are clinics where you have to wait three years, and there are those where you have to wait seven years if someone on the National Health Fund wants to see an endocrinologist. Personally, it’s a matter of weeks. Queues to see specialists are the bane of the health care system. Unfortunately, it’s also the patients’ fault.

Queues for specialist doctors are constantly snaking at the clinics. – The longest queues are at the angiology clinic, but this is due to the fact that there are too few specialists. Family doctors willingly refer (…) and there are few clinics, so the queues are for two years – informs Katarzyna Malinowska-Olczyk from the University Clinical Hospital in Bialystok.

There are even longer queues to the endocrinologist. We called one of the clinics in Jelenia Góra asking about the next date of the visit to the National Health Fund. In response, we heard that you can make an appointment for 2026. Privately, the free date was August 23. In Strzelce Opolskie, in turn, we learned that in the case of urgent visits with a referral, patients are registered for April next year, in Lubin the dates are for 2030.

According to the data of the National Health Fund, in the last quarter of last year, almost 300,000 patients were waiting in line to see a neurologist, of which almost 40,000 were urgent cases. The system also recorded almost 30,000 urgent cases to a cardiologist and over 20,000 urgent cases to an ophthalmologist.

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– The problem is the queues at the National Health Fund, the number of doctors, the number of patients, the capacity of these clinics. With us, the waiting time for an ophthalmology clinic is almost a year – indicates Dr. Małgorzata Woś, head of the Ophthalmology Department of the Stefan Żeromski in Krakow.

Urgent study, distant completion date. This is the reality of cancer patients in PolandMarek Nowicki/Fakty TVN

They don’t come for appointments

Meanwhile, two years have passed since the government abolished the limits on admissions to specialist doctors to unload queues. So why did it fail? “The currently observed trend of extending waiting times is mainly the result of the COVID-19 epidemic,” said Deputy Minister of Health Waldemar Kraska in a press release.

Queues do not disappear either because there is a shortage of specialist doctors, or the working time of those who are is sometimes wasted. In the endocrinology clinic at the Bielański Hospital in Warsaw, patients wait two years for an appointment – after that time, every twentieth does not come to the doctor at all.

Read also: Patients do not come to their appointments en masse. So others have to wait. The problem occurs throughout Poland

– 900 patients do not make a visit in my clinic per year, which is 45 working days for a specialist doctor so much sought after on the market – points out prof. Wojciech Zgliczyński, head of the Department of Endocrinology, CMKP, Bielański Hospital in Warsaw.

Nationally, the problem is gigantic. In the first half of this year, almost 59,000 visits to the endocrinologist were wasted in this way.

Two years ago PiS added money to specialist doctors, and recently also to hospitals. Since then, the queues to specialists have not disappeared, and it will not help hospitals much either, because simply adding money to health care cannot be reformed.

Main photo source: TVN facts

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