Linen shortage cancels 154 ops at Helen Joseph Hospital

By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health:

A shortage of clean theatre linen has led to the cancellation of 154 operations at the Helen Joseph Hospital from January 2014 to July this year.

This information is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mahlangu, the linen shortage was because of a breakdown of boilers, and improper installation of autoclaves that are used to sterilize linen.

She claims that these problems have now been fixed by the Department of Infrastructure Development.

The linen shortage intensified this year as it led to 94 cancelled operations from January to July which averages 13 cancellations a month, as compared to 60 operations cancelled last year (5 ops a month on average).

The worst month was May this year when 40 ops were cancelled.

The hospital has also suffered from shortages of blankets, bed sheets, pyjamas, night dresses and nurses gowns.

This forced some patients to use their own blankets and pyjamas.

Mahlangu says that clean linen will be ensured by doing more washing in-house, procuring linen, and appointing retired nurses to co-ordinate better management of linen between the laundry and theatre/wards.

The maintenance contract of hospital machinery has also been completed.

I hope that measures to ensure clean laundry at all times are successful as it is very disruptive to have so many operations cancelled for an avoidable reason.

It adds to long surgery backlogs that lead to much suffering by patients.