Spanish hospitals face pathologist crisis

Spain reveals shortage of medical experts

Image of a medical researcher. Credit: Sai Thaw Kyar/

Spain has reported a dire shortage of pathologists, a worrying trend as their expertise is essential in speeding up diagnoses of diseases such as cancer.

On Friday, February 16, the Spanish Society of Pathological Anatomy (SEAP) unveiled a pivotal study to over 650 experts, shedding light on the desperate need for more pathologists in Spanish hospitals.

The critical role of pathologists

Pathological Anatomy plays a quintessential role in diagnosing diseases, prognostication, and suggesting tailored treatments. Yet, this speciality remains unseen at social, political, and administrative levels.

The SEAP’s study, involving nearly 400 professionals, including pathologists, technicians, and biologists, reveals a stark reality, a 20 per cent increase in pathologist numbers is crucial for enhancing diagnostic accuracy and speed, particularly in cancer cases.

‘Without the Pathological Anatomy service, most diseases cannot be diagnosed; pathologists are the notaries of medicine,’ emphasised Dr. Santiago Ramon y Cajal, president of the SEAP.

A profession in need

The survey highlights a profession crying out for visibility and resources. With a workforce never exceeding 15 per centre, the disparity in diagnostic quality across Spain is alarming.

Dr. Empar Mayordomo points out, ‘The training level in Spain is one of the best worldwide… The problem is the lack of resources, professionals, and technology.’

Furthermore, 57 per cent of respondents believe the specialty’s low appeal is due to inadequate university planning and unknown professional prospects.

Towards modernisation and networking

A staggering 98 per cent of participants called for increased investment in networking to foster precise diagnoses and efficient treatment plans.

The digitisation of Pathological Anatomy services, currently at a mere 23 per cent, could significantly reduce diagnosis delays and improve certainty. ‘This would avoid failed or inconclusive interventions… which would imply greater cost, impact for the patient, and delays,’ stressed Dr Mayordomo.

Spain’s healthcare system is at a crossroads, with a pressing need for more pathologists, better resources, and advanced technology to ensure high-quality, timely diagnoses for all.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.