Yesterday, 11 August 2022, four senior orthopaedic surgeons and four junior surgeons at the Livingstone Hospital in Nelson Mandela Bay were unable to perform life-saving surgeries, as there was no clean theatre linen. Theatre linen such as gowns and sheets has to be completely sterile in order to comply with Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) regulations.
Some patients have been maimed for life, while others have had amputations as a result of delayed surgeries. These delays are a direct result of the Department of Health not paying suppliers. In some cases, the debt to suppliers is three years old. This is in direct contravention of Treasury regulations and is simply outrageous.
The DA will continue to fight for a healthcare system that heals people and does not cripple them.
My colleague in the National Assembly, Michele Clarke, MP, has written to the Health Ombudsman to request that an unannounced visit be undertaken to the hospital, which the surgeons believe should be shut down with immediate effect.
I have written to the MEC for Finance, Mlungisi Mvoko, to request that an adjustment budget for the Health Department be effected as a matter of extreme urgency, so that creditors can be paid, sufficient and suitable surgical equipment can be procured, linen services can resume and lives can be saved.
Instead of four theatres operating at full capacity to address the critical surgery backlog in the hospital, only one theatre functioned at reduced capacity yesterday. Doctors and staff are at their wit’s end while the provincial head office chooses to ignore their plight.
According to the surgeons, if the hospital were an airline it would have been grounded, as it does not comply with many health regulations. The small savings the hospital has made by procuring equipment from new suppliers will be far outstripped by burgeoning medico-legal claims against the hospital.
The crisis is not only humanitarian, but economic too. Small and medium medical supply businesses in the province are shedding jobs or closing down, as they cannot carry the Health Department’s debt any longer.
While the leadership of this province drive around in their blue light brigades and stiletto heels, our people and our jobs are bleeding. It is time to get rid of incompetent corrupt cadres who choose to remain oblivious to the suffering of our people.
Issued by Jane Cowley, MPL - DA EC Shadow MEC for Health