Elders abused at Bara Eye Clinic

Statement by Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC:

Elderly patients awaiting cataract operations at the St John’s Eye Clinic at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital have been treated badly this year.

For instance, on 20 January, patients with scheduled operations were told to go home because machinery was not working.

This was after they had all got up early and paid for transport to get there. No effort was made to contact them to say that surgery had been cancelled.

Every morning there are long queues of mostly elderly and frail pensioners at this clinic.

According to a recent written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature, 3091 patients at the St John’s Eye Clinic wait three years from diagnosis to operation.

This clinic is drastically under-staffed, with19 vacancies out of 40 positions.

Equipment shortages include the following:

  • Phaco machines
  • Posterior vitrectomy machines
  • Hand held Perkins Tonometer
  • Indirect opthalmoscope
  • Hard and soft lenses
  • Cataract packs

St John’s Eye Clinic has the longest waiting time for cataracts in Gauteng.

The staff and equipment shortages lead to frequent cancellations and rescheduling of operations, which is very stressful and distressing for elderly patients who have waited a long time to regain their sight.

This is inhumane and an abuse of the elderly which cannot be allowed to continue.

Special measures should be taken to improve the situation there as soon as possible.