Surgical crisis at Jhb hospital: DA

2012-08-09 14:18
Johannesburg - Machines to treat cancer patients have been fixed at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, the Gauteng health department said on Thursday.

"Currently six machines are operational and a catch-up plan for patients whose treatment was re-scheduled previously has been put in place," spokesman Simon Zwane said in a statement.

"The hospital has put in place a catch-up plan which includes working overtime to attend to patients whose treatment was re-scheduled previously."

Zwane was replying to recent reports by the Democratic Alliance (DA) alleging that shortages of staff and equipment at the hospital were leading to the cancellation of about 100 operations a week.

DA provincial health spokesman Jack Bloom said shortages of essential items like gloves or sterilised gowns and linen were leading to the delay, or cancellation, of operations.

This had resulted in a four-week-long waiting list for breast cancer patients, which could be life-threatening.

Bloom alleged the situation was a result of budget cuts and unpaid suppliers.

"The hospital is now refusing all transfers of trauma cases from other hospitals and doctors warn that only one major resuscitation can be done at a time."

He said open-heart surgery could not be done safely due to the non-availability of surgical headlights.

"A surgeon has resorted to using a camping headlight for paediatric cardiac surgery."

Bloom said there were 21 vacancies in the 65 posts in the hospital's anaesthesia department, while other departments were similarly short-staffed.

Zwane said the department had advertised a tender for the replacement of laundry machinery at the hospital.

"Current machines are older than 50 years and have constant breakdowns which results in the slow delivery of linen to the hospital."

He said the department was working with the hospital's management to prioritise appointment of staff to critical posts.

"These would ensure that the hospital has adequate linen and gowns at all times."

The DA called for Gauteng health MEC Hope Papo to urgently resolve the surgical crisis at the hospital.
- SAPA
Read more on:    da  |  johannesburg  |  health
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