Timely access to treatment is the foundation for good care and for honoring patient rights. In the circumstances caused by the persistent coronavirus pandemic, patients do not always have the best possible access to treatment. It will take a long time to clear up the treatment backlog accumulated over the past two years.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected our service production in multiple ways. We have had to transfer employees away from elective or planned care to the care of coronavirus patients, according to the circumstances at hand. The year 2021 was also the first full year of use of the new patient information system.
Number of patients waiting for surgical procedures, other procedures or ambulatory surgery
The number of patients waiting for surgical procedures, other procedures or ambulatory surgery remained high in 2021. The total number of patients waiting for surgical procedures, other procedures or ambulatory surgery as at the end of 2021 was 20,338, of whom 2,824 had been waiting for more than six months. The number of patients waiting for surgical procedures increased by almost 500 compared to the previous year. The largest patient groups within this number were those waiting for cataract surgery and for hip or knee replacements.
The average waiting time for non-urgent surgical procedures or inpatient care was 58 days, and the average waiting time for ambulatory surgery was 66 days.
Patients waiting for outpatient care
At the New Year, there were 38,276 patients covered by the care guarantee waiting for outpatient care, of whom 6,747 had been waiting for more than three months and 2,205 had been waiting for more than six months. While patient numbers did grow on the previous year, one important reason for this was the enhanced reporting on access to treatment, having been made more stringent during the year under review for closer monitoring of the HUS treatment queues.
Among the various specialties, the highest numbers of patients who had been waiting for more than three months were found in ophthalmology and orthopedics.