Need surgery – you’ll have to wait ten years, says EC Health Dept.

Issued by Jane Cowley – DA Shadow MEC for Health
03 Apr 2023 in Press Statements

In a damning response to questions from the Democratic Alliance, the Eastern Cape Department of Health has revealed that patients needing orthopaedic surgery will have to wait up to ten years before being treated.

This is completely unacceptable. I have now written to the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Paahla, and the Health Ombudsman to urgently intervene and address the province’s critical surgery backlog.

Health MEC Nomakhosazana Meth revealed that there are more than 1600 patients in need of orthopaedic surgery on the Frere Hospital waiting list and that, while the official backlog is nine years, it is more likely closer to ten.

MEC Meth said children and infants would have to wait more than a year for their surgeries to be performed!

Last week it was revealed that the orthopaedic department at Livingstone Hospital has written to patients to tell them that there is nothing the hospital can do for them, as there is no surgical equipment or implants which are required for orthopaedic surgeries.

This is because the factually bankrupt Department has not paid outstanding debts to suppliers who now simply refuse to continue supplying the department with surgical equipment and implants.

This, even though a DA motion tabled in the Legislature nine months ago, calling for the immediate payment of these suppliers to ensure that surgeries could be done, was unanimously passed in the House.

It is outrageous that patients must suffer, and in critical cases undergo amputations, because of years of historical financial mismanagement by the Department.

It is also unfathomable that proposals to strengthen district hospitals as a mechanism to relieve the current crisis at Frere Hospital will be successful. By their own admission, financial constraints have prevented the Department from providing these district hospitals with the necessary equipment for surgeries.

Instead of obsessively creating and filling unnecessary administrative posts for corrupt and incompetent cadres, who contribute nothing to the functionality of the Department, priority must be given to filling medical posts and settling debts to crucial suppliers.

Furthermore, the DA will advocate for consultations with the private sector to gauge whether they could assist in prioritising and performing the most critical surgeries to prevent further amputations.

The DA will continue to fight for the constitutional right of adequate healthcare for all.