Latvia's hospitals still struggle with queues from Covid time

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Some of Latvia's hospitals still fail to cope with the queues created during the Covid restrictions, Latvian Radio reported October 24.

The first comprehensive restrictions on hospital visits due to Covid affected Latvia in the spring of 2020, said Oskars Šneiders, spokesman for the Ministry of Health.

"In spring 2020, the largest administrative restrictions were imposed on scheduled services for a period of approximately one month. The second major phase of the restrictions was certainly autumn 2021 when the Covid Delta subtype was raging. It was necessary to suspend the provision of scheduled hospital assistance for approximately a month,” said Šneiders.

He said that the return to normal treatment for hospitals took place at different speeds because it depended on the load of each hospital. Some of the hospitals have not yet caught up.

Latvian Radio tried to find out how long the wait is for a state-paid visit to the ophthalmologist and cardiologist at Rīga East Clinical University Hospital, as well as Liepāja and Daugavpils regional hospitals. The conclusion is that a visit this year is unlikely.

At the East hospital, the ophthalmologist visit for state money is available in February of the following year, and the cardiologist in March. Liepājas hospital indicated that the ophthalmologist may be available in November, but it is up to six months' wait for a consultation with a cardiologist. Daugavpils can also provide a visit with an eye doctor in November, but the cardiologist will be in January next year. In most cases, even for a fee, a cardiologist visit has a three to four-month wait. 

Grigorijs Semjonovs, head of Daugavpils hospital, stressed that the lines were not because of restrictions but the whole pandemic situation which required the to clean the rooms more carefully, thereby delaying the flow. Currently, Daugavpils hospital has recovered. There are other problems now.

Semjonovs said, “There's a huge increase in demand. We have caught up with the 'old' demand the one hand. But there was an additional 'order' – an exacerbation of chronic illness following Covid, particularly cardiovascular diseases."

In the East hospital queues that formed during Covid have not yet been defeated.

Jēkabs Zīle, director of the hospital's ambulatory services management, said that one of the biggest problems is that because of long queues, patients are booking a visit at several places but not canceling the spare ones. In the long term, however, the State should think of a single recording system, in which the recording information would be visible to all medical institutions, said Zīle.

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