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05 December 2012

Huge surgery backlogs at Gauteng hospital

The Gauteng health department was dealing with huge surgery backlogs in Johannesburg, where some operations had been delayed for as long as four years.

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The Gauteng health department was dealing with huge surgery backlogs at the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg, where some operations had been delayed for as long as four years.

Departmental spokesman Simon Zwane on Wednesday said the hospital was dealing with the backlogs by prioritising emergency cases and procuring essential medical equipment and consumables, including theatre and intensive care unit equipment.

"Operations that take longer to do are normally non-emergency or elective operations," Zwane said on Tuesday afternoon. He was reacting to a call by the Democratic Alliance for the department to take special measures to reduce the backlogs at the hospital.

The DA health spokesman in Gauteng Jack Bloom said there were 1319 patients on the waiting lists for operations at the hospital. Bloom said heart surgery was the worst affected, with 268 adult and 187 child patients waiting for as long as four years for operations.

Operations cancelled due staff shortages

"This is revealed in a written reply by Gauteng health MEC Hope Papo to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature," said Bloom in a statement on Tuesday. He said the documented report revealed that operations were cancelled in 2012 at the hospital because of a shortage of anaesthetists and other medical staff.

"The MEC stated that other cancellations were caused by over-booked lists due to high patient load, lack of material resources including of specialised equipment and intensive care beds for post-operative patients," said Bloom.

Zwane said some of the factors which were causing the backlogs were related to patients not arriving for operations and patients refusing operations on their first visits."Other factors include high demand for operations because of increased patient loads; shortage of personnel has also played a part previously, but this has been addressed."

He said lack of equipment had a contributory role and that was why it had been prioritised. The hospital conducted 28 230 operations in the 2011/12 financial year, according to Zwane.

(Sapa, December 2012)

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