Gauteng Health MEC Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi. Public hospitals in the province have had to cancel hundreds of surgeries due to lack of clean linen. File Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)
Gauteng Health MEC Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi. Public hospitals in the province have had to cancel hundreds of surgeries due to lack of clean linen. File Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

Lack of clean linen leads to scrapping of hundreds of ops at nine Gauteng public hospitals

By Jonisayi Maromo Time of article published Nov 18, 2021

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Pretoria – A shortage of clean linen has led to the cancellation of surgery at nine Gauteng public hospitals this year, leading to infection risks and the cancellation of hundreds of operations.

This information was revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to questions posed by Democratic Alliance’s health spokesperson Jack Bloom in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mokgethi, public institutions including Far East Rand Hospital, Leratong Hospital, Mamelodi, Sebokeng Hospital, Jubilee District hospitals, as well as Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, as well as Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg, Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital, and the Helen Joseph Hospital.

“Mamelodi was the worst affected hospital as about 200 operations had to be cancelled when linen shortages persisted for two weeks. At Sebokeng Hospital 80 cataract operations were cancelled, Jubilee Hospital cancelled 18 operations, 15 operations were cancelled at Helen Joseph Hospital, as were nine operations at George Mukhari Hospital and three operations at Leratong Hospital,” said Bloom.

Although the Chris Hani Baragwanath and Charlotte Maxeke hospitals also suffered some linen shortages, they had back-up plans and were able to avoid cancelling any surgery.

“It is traumatic for surgeons and staff to have to cancel operations for patients who may have waited for years as the waiting lists are very long, especially for hip and knee cases. Most of the linen shortages are because of machine breakdowns and inefficiency at the two state laundries which supply public hospitals – Dunswart Laundry on the East Rand, and the Masakhane Laundry in Rosslyn in Tshwane,” said Bloom.

He said some hospitals, including Mamelodi, George Mukhari and Charlotte Maxeke, have used private laundries to assist with the shortages, but others feel obliged to only use the state laundries despite their failures.

Bloom said the laundries run by the Gauteng Health Department are notorious for inefficiencies and high cost.

“It is tragic that surgery is disrupted because of linen shortages which are easily avoidable with good management. There is really no reason why the provincial government has to run laundries when there are many private laundries that can do a better job at lower cost,” he said.

“The state laundries should either be fixed rapidly or phased out in favour of private laundries so that linen shortages never again cause problems for hospitals.”

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