If you are on a waiting list to see a specialist, obtain diagnostic tests or have surgery, the important thing to know is that there are very specific legal guidelines regarding how long you can be kept waiting.
Because there are so many different regulations regarding the waiting lists for each particular speciality and service, it is best to ring Salud Responde, the regional health service free-phone in order to explain your specific situation and find out about wait time limits. The number to ring is 902 505 060. Theoretically you should be able to obtain information in English from this helpline.
If you find yourself waiting longer than the law states that you can be kept on a list, then you have the right to apply to be treated outside the public system at government expense, of course.
There is much controversy surrounding waiting lists with some accusing health officials of tampering with the system by closing waiting lists - i.e. not allowing new patient names on already long waiting lists. This keeps lists within the limits of what the system can handle within the time frames mapped out by the law. This, of course, is frustrating to patients desperately needing to get their names on a particular list!