Updated 07 May 2013

Trouble brewing at Joburg Hospital?

Rumours of more specialist resignations at the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital could affect surgeries.

Eyewitness News has reported that there could be a mass exodus of specialist doctors from the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital.

This follows on from the resignation of 12 specialists from the hospital's anaesthetics department recently  over what’s believed to be a battle for overtime payment and alleged mistreatment from management.

Any further resignations will add to the growing concern as to how the hospital will perform vital surgeries with such limited staff.

However, the Gauteng Health Department has denied there is a crisis at the hospital.

'There will be delays'

"The current situation at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital with regards to anaesthetists is not as suggested [by the Democratic Alliance]," spokesman Simon Zwane said.

He was responding to a statement by the DA which said 12 anaesthetists at the hospital had resigned because of bad management and pay cuts due to overtime changes.

"Many operations will be delayed, with patients waiting many more months for operations," DA MPL Jack Bloom said. "It's a great pity that hospital management has mishandled the overtime issue that has led to the resignations of nearly half the anaesthetics department."

He said other doctors were also expected to leave and this would cripple the hospital. "The Gauteng health department needs to intervene urgently, otherwise this hospital will slide further into crisis."

'There is no crisis'

Zwane disputed the DA's claims.

"The hospital has 21 filled posts, three have already left, six will leave at the end of May; there are 39 registrars with about half of these already senior registrars [who work as consultants] and there are six medical officers."

He said 19 theatres operated on a daily basis.

"It is on this basis that the department has consistently denied a crisis. The hospital will also be recruiting to fill the vacant posts."

Zwane said if it was possible to shorten the waiting times for operations the department would do it, but this was not realistic. "It must be understood that while any health system wants to get patients through the system as soon as possible, it is not always possible."

He said insufficient operating time, limited available specialist surgeons, nursing staff, and theatre auxiliaries resulted in backlogs for surgery. Operations were given priority, with those of high-risk patients topping the list.

Given the high incidences of trauma and high-risk pregnancies, operating theatres were usually kept busy with those cases, Zwane said.




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