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DA: Some patients have been waiting since 2010 for surgery at Steve Biko Hospital

The waiting list for surgery at Steve Biko Hospital has ballooned to 2010 patients, including 205 patients who will have to wait between eight and 10 years for maxillo-facial surgery such as repair of cleft palates. This was revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

The orthopaedics departments has the most number of patients waiting for surgery: 638 people who need hip, knee, spinal or feet operations will wait between 18 months and two years. Another problem area is paediatrics, where there are 385 children on the surgery waiting list. Patients needing general surgery and urology surgery wait from eight to 12 months.

The best departments are neurosurgery and cardiothoracic, where the waiting time is only two weeks.

The COVID-19 pandemic is partly blamed for the long waiting lists and waiting times, as only urgent and semi-urgent cases were done because beds were reserved for coronavirus cases during the peak periods. Another reason is a shortage of ICU and theatre nurses.

The hospital also says it does many operations that should be done at lower level hospitals in the Tshwane area.

I am concerned that so many patients at this major hospital suffer in pain waiting for surgery. How can cleft palate sufferers be expected to wait 10 years for corrective surgery? This is utterly inhuman.

Delays due to the COVID crisis are understandable, but the nurse vacancies should surely have been filled. Extra staff should be hired and theatres should work round the clock to cut these long waiting lists as soon as possible.

Issued by Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

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