870 operations have been cancelled at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital so far this year because of overbooking, equipment problems, maintenance issues, and shortages of linen.
This was disclosed today by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in an oral reply to my questions at a sitting of the Gauteng Legislature.
According to Mokgethi, the shortage of clean linen occurred because of inconsistent functioning of boilers and frequent breakages of laundry machines.
She said that the department would be buying a new boiler, which costs about R20 million, to cut down on linen shortages.
I am concerned by the high number of cancelled operations as this causes great distress to staff and patients.
Surgeons are hugely frustrated when an operation cannot proceed because of a linen shortage or another avoidable reason.
Some patients have waited years for operations, only to be disappointed at the last moment when their surgery is cancelled.
Hospital CEOs should be given more powers to do maintenance, which is currently done by the dysfunctional Gauteng Infrastructure Development Department.
More use should be made of private laundries as the state-run laundries are notoriously unreliable and are not cost-effective.
Every effort should be made to avoid the cancellation of operations as the surgery backlogs are alarmingly high and patients suffer from long waits.