Health Dept. paralyses Livingstone Hospital theatre operations

Issued by Jane Cowley, MPL
Shadow MEC for Health

Patients waiting for life-saving orthopaedic surgeries at Livingstone Hospital have now been told by their doctors to call President Cyril Ramaphosa, because their hands are tied and cannot operate because there are no implants or surgical supplies available.

This is a humanitarian crisis. Patients with broken bones, lying in agony, are being told to ask the president for help because the Department entrusted with their care cannot fulfil its basic obligations.

Doctors cannot even refer patients to other hospitals as they have not been mandated to do so. At least three patients at Livingstone Hospital have already had to have limbs amputated due to complications from postponed surgeries.

The shortage of implants is due to the non-payment of suppliers, some of whom have not been paid for years. Doctors have not been informed when implants will be available again, nor have they been given any alternative hospitals to refer patients to.

The matter has been repeatedly raised in the Eastern Cape Legislature by the Democratic Alliance, and a motion brought by the party in June last year, for the Department to immediately settle all outstanding accruals for vital equipment required in orthopaedic surgeries was unanimously adopted.

It is clear that the Department blatantly disregarded the instruction and, as a result, has placed the lives of countless patients at risk!

We will be referring this matter to the Health Ombudsman and calling for MEC Nomakhosazana Meth to be held accountable for failing to implement a resolution of the Legislature.

In response to a parliamentary question from the DA, MEC Meth said several steps had been taken to address the backlog, including the opening of two additional theatres, the identification and recruitment of new staff and the procurement of surgical and medical supplies.

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Clearly, none of these steps has made any difference!

If Premier Oscar Mabuyane wants to know why medico-legal claims have ballooned under his watch, he only needs to look at his executive, who continue to appoint cadre-deployed millionaire managers to a bloated administration rather than pay suppliers for life-saving implants!

It is no wonder doctors and specialists no longer want to work in the public sector. Until the powers that be put their money where their mouths are and walk their extensive talk, patients will continue to suffer and even die in our province.