DA Gauteng MPL Jack Bloom Picture: Antoine de Ras

Johannesburg - A total of 1478 patients are waiting for surgery at the Helen Joseph Hospital in west Johannesburg, with some patients waiting up to 16 months for an operation, the Democratic Alliance in Gauteng said on Sunday. 

This was revealed by Gauteng health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in a written reply to questions in the Gauteng legislature, DA MPL Jack Bloom said.  

The longest list was for eye surgery, where 600 patients needed operations, followed by orthopaedics with 566 patients. Other lists were general surgery - 194; Urology - 39; ear, nose, and throat (ENT) - 37; breast - 23; and neurology - 19, he said. 

The longest waiting time was at orthopaedics, where patients would wait between 12 and 16 months for a hip or knee operation. This meant that a new patient would be scheduled for surgery in October next year.  

Cataract operations would take six months, but ENT had done well in bringing waiting times down from three to six months to three to six weeks, which showed what could be done with good organisation, Bloom said. 

Neurosurgery would take four to five months, but urology was four to six weeks, and breast surgery was also done quite speedily, especially for cancer patients.  

"I am concerned that 104 operations were cancelled last year, some because patients did not show up and others because of power outages. It's a mixed picture for surgery at this hospital, with some departments showing improvements, but problematic delays with eye surgery and orthopaedics."  

Patient numbers were increasing because the hospital took patients from other provinces as well, even some from the Eastern Cape. 

Further efforts were needed to cut down the waiting lists as much as possible, as patients suffered from long waiting times, Bloom said.