By Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL, DA KZN Alternate Spokesperson on Health:
A 78 year old Port Edward woman has been forced to turn to doctors in the Western Cape after she remained at number 281 on the operation waiting list for a hip replacement at Port Shepstone hospital for two years.
The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of intimidation, has been in severe and progressive pain as a result of osteoarthritis of her hip which has now reached the stage where it is difficult to walk.
Unable to see her mother in so much pain the woman’s daughter, who lives in George, flew her to see doctors there in February 2015. Following consultations at the George Provincial Hospital, she was booked for a hip replacement in June.
It is totally unacceptable that vulnerable patients from KZN should have to seek treatment in the Western Cape. The DA believes the root cause of the problem lies with poor planning and specialist shortages in this province.
This is supported by Port Shepstone hospital officials who confirm that the long orthopaedic operation waiting lists are primarily due to staff shortages and increasing patient numbers.
The hospital currently has only one consultant orthopaedic surgeon who is overwhelmed with patients from four surrounding hospitals, two district clinics (Ugu & Sisonke), accident victims from the N2 freeway and patients crossing the border from the Eastern Cape, where the health system has collapsed. The hospital has advertised for an additional surgeons post but received no responses.
KZN’s Health MEC recently announced that 46 registrars would be employed into the system in the 2015 intake. I will today write to the MEC to request that Port Shepstone hospital be allocated an orthopaedic registrar to gain experience in surgery and assist in relieving the current enormous caseload.
It is clear that KZN’s health department must also act swiftly to formulate a plan to attract consultant specialists to rural regional hospitals, all of which are facing staff shortages and increasing patient caseloads.