Overbooking and shortage of ICU beds hampering theatre procedures at Gauteng hospitals
The Gauteng health department says it has put measures in place to address the cancellation of theatre procedures at the province’s academic hospitals.
According to the department, two of the province’s major central hospitals, Charlotte Maxeke academic hospital and Chris Hani Baragwanath academic hospital (Bara), continue to see a large number of patients.
“In 2018 Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital admitted 43,529 patients, while Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital admitted 104,495 patients. Due to various reasons, such as a high number of acute and intensive care unit (ICU) beds, patient-related issues, infrastructure and equipment-related issues, both hospitals had to cancel or defer planned theatre procedures,” said health department spokesperson Kwara Kekana.
She said Charlotte Maxeke hospital cancelled 2,036 procedures in 2018, while Baragwanath hospital deferred 1,979.
“These procedures are then rescheduled at the earliest suitable time, taking into consideration factors that led to deferment,” Kekana said.
The DA's health MPL, Jack Bloom, said 3,294 operations were cancelled at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital from January 2018 to the end of September this year. This was revealed by Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku in a written reply to questions in the Gauteng legislature.
The reasons for cancellation were:
• Overbooking — 1,262
• Shortage of ICU beds — 926
• Patient-related — 559
• Shortage of consumables — 210
• Equipment-related — 115
• Infrastructure-related — 312
“Most of these factors are avoidable, caused by poor management that overbooks patients or fails to ensure working machinery and surgical supplies. The shortage of ICU beds for post-operative recovery is also of concern,” said Bloom.
“The high number of cancellations is distressing for both patients and staff, and worsens the long waiting times for surgery — more than 6,000 patients currently wait more than six months for surgery at this hospital."
Kekana said the department had put systems in place to improve patient outcomes. These included introducing an electronic communication system for bookings, reminders and cancellations, as well as “evaluation of patients for major elective surgical procedures at pre-anaesthetic clinics before bookings are made”.
Other measures being put in place by the department included performing some of the operations in cluster hospitals.
“Improving patient outcomes and patient experience in Gauteng health facilities remains a top priority of the sixth administration,” Kekana said.