2500 patients are on the waiting lists for surgery at the Steve Biko Hospital, some of whom will wait up to two years for an operation.
This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku in a written reply to my question in the Gauteng Legislature.
The worst wait is in Orthopaedics, where 600 patients will wait from 18 months to two years for a hip or knee operation.
Waiting time for Cardiothoracic surgery is two weeks, and General Surgery between 8 and 12 months.
According to Masuku, the reasons for long waiting lists include the following:
- shortage of theatre trained nurses limits the number of theatres that can operate per day
- shortage of ICU trained nurses limits the number of post-operative ICU beds
- the high number of serious trauma cases affects planned elective surgical operations
- budgetary constraints
- patient referrals who should have been operated on at other hospitals
Surgery cases are also increasing because of an aging population and high trauma levels in society.
The real waiting times are actually longer than these official figures because patients can wait many months to see a specialist to put them on the waiting list.
More resources and better management is needed to cut surgery waiting times that cause much distress to patients.