Measures to deal with long waiting times for operations announced
The Gauteng Health Department has announced measures to deal with long waiting periods for elective surgery - surgery that is scheduled in advance because it does not involve a medical emergency - at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital.
The Health MEC, Ms Qedani Mahlangu, had earlier committed to fast tracking the drastic reduction of the growing elective surgery waiting list at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in particular.
The measures to be employed by the department, amongst others, include; operations to be done on Saturdays, referral of minor cases to be dealt with at district (level 2) hospitals as well as other district hospitals, extra theatre time allocated at Baragwanath hospital, and an agreement has been reached with the private health sector to use ICU beds at the same cost as in the Public Sector if needed.
The Baragwanath Hospital already has a waiting list of 4846 patients waiting for a variety of procedures to be done. The greatest number of patients are waiting for ophthalmic procedures accounting for 1919 (39, 6%), followed by Orthopaedic at 1326 (27, 4%), urology 1200 (24, 8%), general surgery 357 (7, 4%) and plastic surgery 44 (0.91%).
Among the key reasons leading to delays in operations, the department distinguished between: (i) systemic - limited ICU/High Care bed space as major operations require post-operative care in these units; (ii) patient related causes - patients who do not arrive for surgery on scheduled dates, some patients decline to give consent for surgery which is a requirement for all procedures and (iii) those due to underlying causes/comorbidity such as uncontrolled underlying chronic systemic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, infections, etc.
Long waiting periods for elective surgery put an extra burden on the cost of care, the quality of life of patients and the health system in general. Through this initiative it is hoped that the Hospital’s waiting list will be radically decreased.
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