In 2021, our operations continued to be highly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Demand for our services recovered from the low of the previous year in 2021, but we did not regain 2019 levels.
In 2021, HUS specialist medical care and emergency departments treated a total of 668,939 patients. In specialist medical care, we treated 588,067 patients in our own services and outsourced services. The number of patients in specialist medical care was 3.9% lower than in the previous year.
Our specialist medical care services were used by 545,493 residents of member municipalities, a decrease of 25,968 residents on the previous year. This decrease was mainly due to the way statistics were compiled in 2020, as at the start of the coronavirus pandemic all drive-in testing visits were recorded as specialist medical care visits. About 32% of the residents of member municipalities used specialist medical care services provided or organized by HUS in 2021.
We have about 3,000 hospital and care beds in all.
More referrals and emergency department visits
Redirecting resources in primary health care to prevention and treatment of the coronavirus pandemic continued to cause bottlenecks in the operations of the referring units.
In 2021, we received about 335,000 elective or preplanned referrals, up 6.2% on the previous year. HUS received 1,324 elective referrals every weekday on average, as opposed to 1,246 in 2020.
The number of emergency clinic visits for specialist medical care (265 861) increased by 1.6% on the previous year. In 2021, our hospitals logged an average of 728 emergency department visits for specialist medical care per day.
The operating volume of medical services was 3.6% under budget while showing an increase of 3.7% on the previous year.
The total number of surgical procedures was 86,772, which is 10.5% more than in 2020. The number of elective surgical procedures was 65,214, showing growth of 16%. The number of emergency surgical procedures, by contrast, was 21,523, showing a decrease of 4%. Because of the pandemic, elective surgery requiring short-term intensive care had to be restricted according to the capacity available in intensive care, and 2019 levels were not attained.
In 2021, we billed HUS member municipalities for a total of EUR 31.6 million for treatment periods of coronavirus patients. These treatment periods included 12,758 days of inpatient care and 3,788 days of intensive care. Coronavirus-related emergency visits cost member municipalities EUR 2 million, and coronavirus testing and analytics cost a total of EUR 234 million.