Severe shortage of orthopaedic surgeons crippling patients

By Jane Sithole, MPL, Spokesperson on Health:

Health MEC Gillion Mashego’s inability to cure his department’s financial ailments continues to be felt in every corner of his department.

A total of 647 patients admitted in hospitals across Mpumalanga are awaiting surgery but due to the province’s shortage of orthopaedic surgeons, some wait as much as three months.

According to MEC Mashego, the waiting periods differ based on which district the patient resides in. The breakdown is as follows;

  • Patients in the Ehlanzeni District municipality wait at least 8 weeks,
  • Patients in the Gert Sibande District municipality wait at least 14 weeks
  • Patients in the Nkangala District municipality wait at least 24 weeks.


The Department’s annual report for the 2014/15 financial year shows that in its programme for Tertiary Hospitals, the programme underspent its budget by R11.5 million which means that during this time, 16 much-needed medical specialists could have been employed.

The lack of orthopaedic surgeons and the long waiting lists result in hospitals having to send some of their patients home with broken bones even though they need surgery.

Currently, there are over 338 patients sitting at home waiting for the hospital to put an end to their agony by repairing their broken bones. The longer they wait, the more they are likely to develop disabilities due to their bones growing back incorrectly.

It is becoming too clear that the Department of Health is burdened with poor leadership and a lack of political will to see the people receive adequate quality healthcare.

MEC Mashego’s inability to manage his department’s finances is bringing the thousands of people who are dependent on government for healthcare down on their knees. This can no longer continue.

The DA reiterates its call for MEC Mashego to accept responsibility for his shortcomings and step down. At the very least, the people of Mpumalanga deserve a government that puts them first and an MEC who cares