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Groote Schuur Hospital needs R60 million to clear surgical backlog

Gift of the Givers is partnering with Groote Schuur Hospital to relieve the pressure of surgical backlogs. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Gift of the Givers is partnering with Groote Schuur Hospital to relieve the pressure of surgical backlogs. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 25, 2022


Groote Schuur Hospital needs an estimated R60 million to clear a backlog of 6 000 surgeries for patients on its waiting list.

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The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in thousands of patients waiting to have surgeries for cataracts, breast and prostate cancer and implants. Some patients have been on the waiting list for more than two years.

On Tuesday, Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, CEO of Groote Schuur Dr Bhavna Patel and head of general surgery Dr Lydia Cairncross officially announced their partnership in the Surgical Recovery Project.

Earlier this month, the Weekend Argus reported on the joint partnership between the hospital and the humanitarian group to help address the backlog. And on Tuesday the organisation said it had donated R5m towards the project.

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Both Sooliman and Cairncross noted the importance to try to reduce the backlog of surgeries in public hospitals. During the Covid-19 fourth wave a number of doctors and nurses were out of work either in quarantine or isolation.

Cairncross thanked the organisation for their donation but said that they had a long way to go.

“May 1 is the planned date for the surgeries to start. We will be performing 1 500 surgeries for this year,” said Cairncross.

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“So far we raised R5m thanks to Gift of the Givers but still need a further R10m which will be solely spent on the surgeries requirements, such as anaesthetics and nursing equipment.

Dr Imtiaz Sooliman and members of Groote Schuur Hospital hosted a press briefing about the campaign to raise funds needed to implement the Surgery Recovery Project at the hospital. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

“The hospital will be providing infrastructure, consumables and the staff who willingly offered their spare time, with no additional cost.”

In order to address the full backlog of 6 000, the hospital will need as much as R60m.

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Sooliman said it would need the action of ordinary South Africans to make the catch-up surgeries work.

“This country does not belong to the government, they are just custodians, the country belongs to us citizens,” he said.

“To the government I say, you cannot absolve yourself from such a responsibility; to corporates I say, show some serious interest in fixing the country, there has already been change – we see the compassion that comes with the donations; and to the citizens, those who are by means, let’s help get things sorted, and what better place to start than at a health facility.

“You never know, that money you donate might even be a lifesaver for someone you know, a family member who desperately needs the surgery.”

Sooliman also pointed out that the project should be a project of hope.

“Let it be an example, because this is going to work out, there’s no choice, it will work, it will be an example.”