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The government aims for a 12-week maximum wait for specialist health consultations

The current average is less than four weeks, though it takes much longer for a first consultation with certain specialists.

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The current average is less than four weeks, though it takes much longer for a first consultation with certain specialists.

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

UPDATED: 21 Dec 2023, 11:05 pm

While Macao residents wait less than four weeks on average for their first consultation with a public sector medical specialist, some face significantly longer wait-times, Ponto Final reports.

It’s harder to get an appointment with ophthalmologists – who specialise in eye health – and orthopaedists (bone experts). Both have average wait-times of 10 weeks at the public Conde S. Januário Hospital, meaning many patients experience delays.

Macao’s Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Elsie Ao Ieong has said she is committed to reducing initial consultation wait-times, but emphasised that most current delays are “acceptable”.

The government aims to limit the maximum wait for all specialities to 12 weeks in 2024, she added.

Ao Ieong said Macao’s increasing elderly population was behind the backlog of ophthalmology and orthopaedics cases. There was high demand for cataract surgery, for example.

[See more: Islands hospital starts recruiting, with 90 vacancies listed]

However, she emphasised that longer wait times were only for issues that weren’t urgent – and where it was generally safe for patients to hold off on medical treatment.

“It is a fact that some specialties in hospitals currently require a longer waiting time, but as they are related to non-urgent illnesses, patients can wait,” she said. “More than half of patients can [currently] go to consultations within a period of one or two weeks.”

Macao residents wait, on average, 3.6 weeks for their first consultation with a medical specialist in the public health service – a remarkably short period when compared to Hong Kong, where the median wait time for non-urgent cases is around a year.

Cotai’s new Islands District Medical Complex, scheduled to open next month, should help improve the city’s wait-times. Ao Ieong also noted that the government was looking into establishing a new category of medical institution – something between a clinic and a hospital – to expand the healthcare system.

 

UPDATED: 21 Dec 2023, 11:05 pm

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