By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health:
A total of 2246 patients are on the waiting lists for surgery at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital, of whom 1500 are waiting for a kidney transplant.
These figures are provided in a written reply by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
Six years is the waiting time for the 1500 patients who need a kidney transplant.
It is better for the 100 patients who need a liver transplant who will wait from six months to a year.
The 50 patients for a coronary bypass operation will wait from six to 18 months.
Other operations are done more speedily and have few waiting patients.
For breast cancer, for instance, there are seven patients who will wait two weeks for surgery.
There is no waiting time for Head and Neck reconstruction after cancer resection.
I am encouraged that a cleft palate is done within one month at this hospital as patients can wait for up to nine years at the Steve Biko Hospital.
According to Mahlangu, long waiting times are caused by the prioritization of emergency cases, the shortage of equipment and ICU beds, limited theatre capacity and donor shortages for liver transplant.
In order to cut the waiting lists, some operations are being done at the Edenvale and Tambo Memorial hospitals and minor operations are referred to cluster hospitals.
More effort is needed to get organ donors as many patients die while waiting.
Staff and equipment shortages also need to be tackled more vigorously as these are major reasons why surgery is delayed.
The cancellation of 355 operations at the hospital last year has added to the backlog, and earlier this year surgery was halted because of a shortage of clean linen.
Waiting times vary widely at different hospitals in Gauteng, so a provincial registry could assist in reassigning certain patients for surgery.
The highest priority should be to send some of the 395 patients who wait nine years for a cleft palate at Steve Biko Hospital to Charlotte Maxeke for their operations.