The Eastern Cape Department of Health revealed during a session of the provincial legislature that patients who require orthopedic operations sometimes wait up to ten years for an operation at one of the province’s state hospitals.
Nomakhosazana Meth, MEC for health in the Eastern Cape, says there are more than 1,600 patients who need urgent orthopedic surgery just on the Frere Hospital in East London’s waiting list. The official backlog is nine years “and more likely closer to ten”. According to him, children and babies wait more than a year for urgent operations.
“This is unacceptable,” says Jane Cowley, the DA’s spokesperson for health in the Eastern Cape.
“I have the dr. Joe Paahla, Minister of Health, as well as the health ombudsman approached to urgently intervene and pay attention to the province’s backlog with critically important surgery.”
The Livingstone Hospital in Port Elizabeth informed patients last week that there is nothing the hospital can do for them further, because no surgical equipment or implants required for orthopedic operations are available at the hospital.
“This is because the virtually bankrupt Department of Health has not paid outstanding debts to suppliers, and these are now refusing to continue supplying the department with surgical equipment and implants,” says Cowley.
“It is outrageous that patients have to suffer and in critical cases undergo amputations due to years of financial mismanagement by the Department of Health.”
Die dire conditions in Eastern Cape state hospitals has hit the media many times, but solutions by the Department of Health still seem to be absent.
Proposals to strengthen district hospitals as a mechanism to alleviate the current crisis at Frere Hospital also seem to have failed. According to Cowley, this is because financial constraints prevent the department from providing district hospitals with the necessary equipment for operations.
“Instead of continuously creating unnecessary administrative posts and filling them with corrupt and incompetent cadres – who contribute nothing to the functionality of the department – priority must be given to appointing competent persons in medical posts. The settlement of debts to crucial suppliers must also be given priority,” says Cowley.
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