Hospital Checkups After Hours


Florence residents no longer have to worry about fitting in medical visits around a busy daytime schedule: Santa Maria Nuova hospital is introducing nocturnal radiology and MRI services that will run until midnight on July 31, August 1, 7, 8 and 22. From September 15, a new calendar will be introduced, also including appointment times on Saturday afternoons and some Sundays.

The initiative aims to cut the extensive waiting lists and offer patients who need medical attention more time slots to ensure that they are seen as soon as possible. Councilor of Health for the region of Tuscany, Stefania Saccardi, visited the hospital on Thursday, July 25 to see the results for herself. She states that ‘the plan to reduce the waiting lists is starting to work. The figures stand as proof. We are achieving these results thanks to the hard work of the nurses and doctors who have made this extra hours project possible. People are happy, they almost can’t believe it. We are taking decisive action to resolve the problem of waiting lists.’

Doctor Angela Konze explains that ‘all the patients are coming from CUP (Centro Unico Prenotazioni). Things run smoothly in the evenings, it’s calmer. When we have the staff, we try to do it every evening, a bit less during the summer months. Patients call us on the phone saying: Excuse me, I’ve been given an appointment at 11 pm, is this right?’

Konze’s colleague Renzo Ricci highlights the advantages of this new initiative: ‘Since we started doing radiology at night, we’ve drastically reduced the waiting lists. Since the beginning of this year, here at Santa Maria Nuova we’ve done 3.400 MRI scans, it’s as if we’ve acquired a whole new scanner.’ 

Evening appointments and diagnoses are also available in Florence’s peripheral hospitals. At Hospital San Giovanni di Dio (Torregalli), patients will be seen for MRI scans from 8 pm to midnight five days a week and for 10 different medical exams on Saturday afternoons from 2 pm – 7 pm and Sunday morning from 9 am – 2 pm. Santa Maria Annunziata Hospital (Ponte a Niccheri) will also be extending their radiology hours to now run until 7.10 pm Monday – Friday.

The whole region of Tuscany is working towards tackling the waiting list backlog for medical care by implementing these extended working hours. Thanks to these changes, hospitals across the region have been able to carry out 25.000 extra checkups, including sonograms, CT and MRI scans. 

The average number of days to wait to be seen for an ultrasound has gone from 102 in May 2019 to only 7 as of July 2019. For an MRI scan, the waiting period has drastically diminished from 203 to 19 days, 110 to 22 and 87 to 18 across the aforementioned hospitals in Florence.

To read more in Italian, visit Florence’s La Repubblica news site.(saskia brown)