About 6,000 patients waiting for surgery at Gauteng hospitals


Transplant patients can expect to wait up to three years, while others can wait between six and 12 months.

Nearly 6,000 patients are awaiting surgery at Gauteng’s major academic hospitals.

More than 4,000 were registered at George Mukhari Academic Hospital, while at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital 1,850 patients were awaiting surgery, of which 35 were for transplants, 639 were ophthalmology surgeries and 539 were orthopaedic surgeries.

Transplant patients could expect to wait up to three years, while others could wait between six and 12 months.The Gauteng department of health yesterday cited the high volume of emergency cases, a lack of intensive care unit beds and limited theatre capacity as reasons for the backlog.

At George Mukhari, ageing buildings and staff shortages were compounding the problem. This was revealed by the Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku in replies to questions from the Democratic Alliance’s Jack Bloom.

Emergency cases at these hospitals had to be prioritised over elective surgeries. In a bid to ease the pressure of the high volume of surgery patients at state hospitals and to reduce waiting times, the department said it was redirecting surgeries to district hospitals.

Department spokesperson Philani Mahlangu said there were satellite centres of excellence for specific procedures around the province.

“The benefit of this arrangement is that specialist surgeons seconded to work at the cluster institutions transfer surgical skills to the medical officers working in district hospitals,” said Mahlangu.

According to Bloom, the longest waiting time was for hip and knee surgery at George Mukhari. In this category, 558 patients would wait for weeks if it was urgent, otherwise up to five years.

“This means a newly diagnosed patient could be given a date in 2024 for surgery,” Bloom said.According to Mahlangu, the department embarked on a weekly catch-up drive for arthroplasty at Charlotte Maxeke among other measures to reduce the queue.

George Mukhari referred less critical operations to cluster hospitals, namely Brits, Jubilee and Odi.

These operations were done on a weekly and monthly basis. Bloom revealed the average waiting time for outpatients at Charlotte Maxeke was 240 minutes while for casualty patients it was 180 minutes.

Mahlangu said this was because it was one of the province’s busiest hospitals.

Source: The Citizen