3151 patients wait for surgery at Steve Biko Hospital

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Health Spokesman

An astounding 3151 patients wait for surgery at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria. This has nearly doubled from the 1629 on the waiting lists at this hospital last year.

The latest figure is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Hope Papo in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

The worst is for 430 cleft palate patients who wait 8 to 10 years for surgery to correct their deformity. This is frankly inhuman.

450 cataract patients will wait for two years, and 1741 orthopaedics patients wait between 6 months and a year for joint surgery.

Adding to the delay is the high number of deferred operations – 480 so far this year for reasons including unavailability of anaesthesiologists, shortage of post-operative ICU beds and no reagents for the blood gas machines.

According to Papo, reasons for the long waiting lists include the following:

  • “a service demand that far exceeds the capacity and resources of the hospital”
  • Referral of patients from Mpumalanga and Limpopo hospitals that are unable to meet their service obligations
  • only 15-17 of the 21 theatres are operational per day because of a shortage of theatre qualified Professional Nurses and Anaesthesiologists
  • the high number of trauma cases compete with booked operations for theatre time and ICU beds

I am horrified at how the waiting list has grown from last year.

A better budget is clearly needed, and I would suggest a partnership with the private health sector to drastically cut down the surgery backlogs to a more reasonable level.