170 ops cancelled at Steve Biko Hospital because of Covid-19

Operation in progress

Steve Biko Hospital has had to cancel 170 non-emergency operations since the Covid-19 lockdown began in March this year, which has resulted in much suffering for patients who may have waited years for their surgery.

These figures are revealed by acting Gauteng Health MEC Jacob Mamabolo in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

The breakdown of the cancelled operations is as follows:

  • General surgery – 111
  • Orthopedics – 26
  • Paediatrics – 15
  • Gynaecology – 8

According to Mamabolo “The hospital is continuing with semi-elective cases and as from the 15th June 2020 out of the 21 theaters in the hospital only ten will be operational; six for urgent elective cases and four for emergency. This is because of pressure related to increase in trauma emergencies and other alcohol-related emergencies accompanied by a rise in number of Covid-19 cases since Level 3 Lockdown.”

Mamabolo says that “the impact on the patient is that their illness may complicate and may experience more discomfort from their illness.” I hope that elective surgery resumes as soon as possible as waiting lists are already long, particularly for knee and hip operations where some patients have waited for more than two years. Extra measures should be taken after the Covid-19 crisis has passed to reduce the alarming surgery backlog by working after-hours and using private hospitals as well for state patients.

Jack Bloom l DA

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