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Surgery backlogs soar at Bara Hospital: Pay private hospitals to serve public patients

Sep 04, 2022

By Neelam Rahim

Not enough theatre time, non-availability of ICU beds, power outages, and the prolonged closure of the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital trauma unit because of last year’s fire are some of the explanations why Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto has developed an enormous surgery roll.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says the health department must consider paying private hospitals to perform surgery on patients from public hospitals to handle surgical procedure backlogs.

Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi revealed in her written reply to the DA within the legislature that Bara Hospital’s surgery roll has increased to 11,194 from last year’s 7,288.

According to the information declared by Mokgethi, 3,394 cataract patients must wait a year to regain their sight, while over 700 acute care and trauma surgery patients have a wait of six months to a year. Over 1,770 hip and knee replacement patients are on a four-and-a-half-year roll, and over 1,300 children will wait six months for surgery, while 243 patients with prostate cancer will wait 24-36 months.

While Mokgethi said, the Covid-19 pandemic and the fire at CMJAH were partial causes of the growing waiting lists. The DA’s Jack Bloom pointed out that better management could help fix problems like broken equipment, non-functioning autoclaves and dysfunctional boilers.

“The DA is concerned that there has been such an enormous jump in surgery waiting lists at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. It’s over 11,000 patients now. I believe that they have to have surgery blitzes around the clock which they ought also to consider paying private hospitals to do public patients, otherwise, these waiting lists are just going to get longer and longer.”

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