The number of patients waiting for cataract surgery in Gauteng has increased dramatically to 15 957 as 8527 cataract operations were cancelled since the COVID-19 lockdown on 26 March this year.
This is revealed by Acting Gauteng Health MEC Jacob Mamabolo in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
According to Mamabolo, the waiting time for cataract surgery varies from two weeks to 16 months depending on the facility.
The highest number is at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital with 3028 cataract patients waiting for surgery, followed by Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital with 2350, and Sebokeng Hospital with 1900 cataract patients.
Waiting lists for cataract surgery at other hospitals are as follows:
George Mukhari – 1608
Leratong – 1100
Lenasia South – 1000
Kalafong – 980
Helen Joseph – 980
Steve Biko – 900
Thelle Mogoerane – 800
Tembisa – 576
Pretoria West – 238
Tambo Memorial – 237
Mamabolo says that catch-up surgeries are planned, including marathons using extended theatre time after hours and over weekends.
I welcome special measures to cut the backlogs for cancelled surgery.
A good start is being made with cataract surgery where the numbers are highest, but there are many other operations that had high backlogs even before the lockdown.
The fastest way to cut the backlogs would be for the Gauteng Health Department to pay private hospitals to treat public patients, which should be seriously considered.