13 603 patients wait for cataract ops in Gauteng

14 Sep 2021 in Press Statements

The waiting list for cataract operations in Gauteng has ballooned to 13 603, and many will suffer as long as two years before their sight can be restored.

This is disclosed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mokgethi, the worst backlogs are in the following hospitals:

Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital – 2572

Thelle Mogoerane Hospital – more than 2500

Sebokeng Hospital – 2256

George Mukhari Hospital – 2115

Mamelodi Hospital – 1040

Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital – 1138

Hospitals with lower numbers are the following:

Helen Joseph Hospital – 597

Tembisa Hospital – 398

Leratong Hospital – 289

Kalafong Hospital – 258

Steve Biko Hospital – 250

Tambo Memorial Hospital – 110

Pholosong Hospital – 80

The waiting times are also very variable, the longest being two years at Mamelodi Hospital, 22 months at Sebokeng Hospital, and 18 months at the Chris Hani and George Mukhari hospitals.

Cataract patients at Tambo Memorial Hospital will only wait for four weeks, at Leratong hospital for two months, and 3 months or a little longer at the Kalafong, Tembisa and Pholosong hospitals.

The cancellation of elective surgery because of the Covid-19 epidemic is a major reason for some of the backlogs, but shortages of equipment and personnel is also a factor.

At Mamelodi Hospital, more theatres and staff are needed.

Sebokeng hospital does not have a dedicated theatre for cataract surgery, and operations have been cancelled due to a lack of clean linen.

Helen Joseph Hospital could have done far more eye operations but they were short of blades because of the lapse of a previous tender for this crucial item.

On the other hand, Tambo Memorial Hospital has done well by doing operations on Saturdays, and Pholosong Hospital has decreased waiting times by employing two ophthalmologists.

Several hospitals are planning weekend blitzes to cut their backlogs, but they need support for overtime payments to achieve this.

It is an immense tragedy that so many people are denied the gift of sight because of huge waiting lists for surgery.

The DA will continue to press for the skilled personnel and equipment that will radically speed up the restoration of sight to thousands of people.

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