A crisis has been temporarily averted at Livingstone Hospital in Gqeberha, where orthopaedic implants supplied by Johnson & Johnson were halted last week after the company said it was owed R34m in outstanding bills.
The move caused immediate paralysis of the department. After smaller suppliers had stopped providing orthopaedic implants to the hospital, J&J had done the same, saying it was owed millions for supplies already delivered, and that the paperwork for some of its invoices, dating back to 2019, had not even been started.
Daily Maverick reports that surgeries for about 70 patients with bone fractures and sepsis came to a standstill, with doctors warning that they faced permanent impairment as their “window of opportunity” to be helped was closing and their ability to do a “catch-up” theatre list was very low.
On 1 June, the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature stepped in, ordering the provincial health department to immediately pay the bills of companies supplying orthopaedic implants to the hospital so that surgeries could continue.
The health department said trauma cases in the area serviced by Livingstone Hospital had outstripped the number budgeted for. In addition, the health department is facing contingent medico-legal claims totalling R38bn and has been ordered to make record-breaking payouts in the past two years.
Claims arising from orthopaedic surgeries are among the areas that were identified as high risk.
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