The National Board of Health and Welfare has conducted a new analysis of the number of visits, treatments, and wait times in care during the pandemic. The results show that the number of operations decreased by 22 percent between March 2020 and January 2021, compared to the same period the previous year.
We are in the third wave with a very heavy burden on healthcare, which means planned care to be postponed again. This is in addition to the pent-up care needs that have been in place since the first and second waves. Care has shown great potential for change, but we are seeing that visits and treatments have decreased while waiting times have increased. Sevim Barbaso Helmers, a researcher with the National Council of Health and Welfare, says in a press release that the effects of the epidemic will likely be felt by both patients and staff long after the spread of infection has decreased.
In terms of percentage, operations decreased by approximately the same amount across all age groups. In the case of surgeries covered under the Care Guarantee, the reduction was greater in the areas of orthopedics, general surgery and eye care.
The National Board of Health and Welfare figures also show that there are more patients waiting longer than the 90-day care guarantee limit for surgery. In January of this year, about 55,700 people waited more than 90 days for surgery or other procedures.
This means that half of all those who waited for an operation at the start of the year had to wait longer than the 90 days the maximum guarantee of care.
The National Board of Health and Welfare also states that the number of first visits to doctors in specialized care was 290,400 fewer visits compared to before the pandemic.
According to the National Board of Health and Welfare, the decline is evident across all disciplines – but was greatest in otolaryngology, orthopedics, paediatrics and adolescent medicine.
Part of the decrease in visits and operations could be explained by the fact that patients received other types of care or that needs decreased, among other things because restrictions on infection control resulted in fewer injuries and accidents. At the same time, many patients wait for care longer than the 90-day care guarantee, says Sevim Barbaso Helmers.
With regard to primary care, the numbers show that visits to primary care were 9 percent lower in January of this year compared to January 2020, but the National Board of Health and Care also indicates that visits to primary care have recovered better than visits to specialist care. After the steep decline in the spring of 2020.