Seven hundred and eighty -five ops cancelled at Charlotte Maxeke hospital as 2677 patients wait for surgery

Over 780 operations were cancelled at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital last year, worsening the long waiting lists for surgery which has grown to 2677 patients.

This was revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

Paediatric surgery was the most affected, with 610 cancelled operations. The other cancellations were as follows:

• 80 Cardiothoracic ops cancelled
• 40 Gastrointestinal ops cancelled
• 25 Breast clinic, Endocrine and Soft Tissue ops cancelled
• 20 Neurosurgery ops cancelled
• 10 Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) ops cancelled

The largest waiting list is for Orthopaedics, with 833 patients who could wait up to two years for surgery.

Paediatric surgery has 453 child patients who will wait between 6 months and two years.

There are 200 cataract patients who will wait between 6 and 8 months for surgery, 137 neurosurgery patients will wait for six months, and 109 urology patients will wait between 4 and 6 months.

I think these figures underestimate the true situation as it does not include the long waiting periods for many patients to be diagnosed by a specialist before they are placed on the waiting lists for surgery.

Insufficient theatre time and the shortage of ICU beds are the major reasons for the cancellation of operations.

Disruption from Covid-19 and the partial closure of the hospital due to the fire in April last year are other factors.

It’s particularly upsetting that many children suffer from the surgery delays.

This highlights the need to fully re-open the hospital as soon as possible, and to expand the operating theatre and ICU capacity in order to drastically cut the surgery waiting lists.

Linen shortages disrupt surgery at 9 Gauteng hospitals

Linen shortages have disrupted surgery at nine Gauteng public hospitals this year, leading to infection risks and the cancellation of about 325 operations.

This information was revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mokgethi, the following hospitals were affected by a shortage of clean linen:

Far East Rand





Chris Hani Baragwanath

Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg

George Mukhari

Helen Joseph

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, 9 ops at George Mukhari hospital and 3 ops at Leratong hospital.

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 Roslyn in Tshwane.

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.

Sebokeng Hospital has now opted for an in-house laundry service and Far East Rand Hospital has used disaster stock and even borrowed from other hospitals.

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.

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.

Five and a half years wait for hip and knee surgery at Bara hospital

There is an immensely long surgery waiting list of 7288 patients at the Chris Hani Baragwanath, including 1771 patients who will wait five and a half years for their hip and knee operations.

This information is disclosed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mokgethi, the long waiting lists are due to the high number of patients at the hospital and interruptions from the waves of Covid cases.

There are 738 hip patients and 1033 knee patients who will only get surgery by 14 April 2026.

This is an appallingly long time to wait for surgery – imagine being diagnosed and then being told to come back in 2026!

I am also concerned about the 2572 patients waiting for cataract operations, and 1048 children who are waiting for surgery at this hospital.

Unfortunately, I don’t see a concerted plan to drastically cut these backlogs which were long even before the Covid epidemic.

It is unconscionable for so many patients to suffer for so long. It seems that some waiting lists only get shorter because patients die while waiting.

There should be blitzes using operating theatres around the clock, and the department should pay private hospitals to do surgery for public patients.


Broken theatres delay cardiac ops at Steve Biko Hospital

Cardiac patients at the Steve Biko Hospital are waiting for weeks for surgery due to only 4 out of 11 theatres being functional.

It is unclear why so many theatres are unable to be used but the waiting time is three weeks for a simple angiogram procedure.

Both doctors and patients are frustrated by the delays in doing essential heart surgery. Some of the patients have spent weeks at the cardiac ward waiting for their operations.

This follows a problem of broken lifts at the hospital in September which was greatly inconvenient for sick people.

Broken machinery is unfortunately a common problem in state hospitals in Gauteng because of poor maintenance.

Last month more than 100 operations were cancelled at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital because of broken air-conditioning.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to massive surgery backlogs that need to be cut as soon as possible, but this can only be done if all machinery is well-maintained and functional.

Broken aircon halts bone surgery at Steve Biko Hospital

Patients with broken bones have been waiting for three weeks to be operated on at the Steve Biko Hospital as the air-conditioning unit is broken at the theatre used for orthopaedic surgery.

The delay is immensely painful and frustrating for these patients, many of whom were injured in road accidents.

It will add to the long Orthopaedics waiting list which already has 600 patients who wait from 18 months to two years for a hip or knee operation.

This hospital has top class surgeons but equipment breakdowns and other failures often prevent them from doing their work.

It is unacceptable that a critical air-conditioning unit is out of order for so long at a major hospital.

It needs to be fixed or replaced as soon as possible.

Ops cancelled at Joburg hospital

All non-emergency surgery was cancelled at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital last week on Thursday because of a shortage of basic medical supplies.

More than 20 patients were told that their operations could not go ahead as scheduled.

There has been a problem for some weeks with procurement at this hospital.

The shortages of essential medical equipment for surgery includes suction catheters, oropharyngeal airways, laryngeal masks, arterial line transducer, suture dressings and the correct size gloves.

Medical staff often have to borrow equipment from other hospitals. Some elective surgery went ahead on Friday because supplies were taken from the Helen Joseph Hospital.

It is shameful that doctors at a major hospital cannot do their jobs because basic medical supplies are short, with patients suffering as a result.

Government plans for a grandiose National Health Insurance (NHI) will go nowhere if simple things cannot be fixed in our public hospitals.

Generators Fail At Joburg Hospital

Generators at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital failed to operate this morning after the hospital was hit by a power cut in the area.

At about 10 am this morning the generators did initially kick in, but then they failed across the entire hospital for about two hours.

Doctors had to complete surgery using the light from their cell phones and manual systems had to be used to assist a number of ICU patients.

Lifts were stuck, making it impossible to move patients to and from certain areas.

Partial generator power was established later in the morning.

We need to know why the generators failed despite all the assurances by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu that this would never happen again at any Gauteng hospital.

It is inexcusable that generators have failed yet again at a major hospital, endangering the lives of patients.

There must be accountability for this failure and effective steps to ensure that all generators work when required.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

[Image source]

355 Ops cancelled at Joburg hospital

Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital

355 operations were cancelled at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital in 2014, mostly because of time constraints, lack of ICU beds, equipment shortages or no clean linen.

This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

The major reasons for cancellations are as follows:

• Time constraints: 110
• Underprepared patients: 62
• Non-availability of ICU and High Care beds: 41
• Equipment shortage: 25
• Linen shortage: 15
• Drug shortage: 6


Only seven operations were cancelled because the patient did not show up.

It is clear that most of these cancellations were avoidable with better management and availability of resources.

The high number of cancellations adds to the long waiting list of 2246 patients for operations at this hospital.

There have been further incidents this year of cancelled operations due to linen shortages and the breakdown of air-conditioning in the theatres.

Every effort should be made to avoid unnecessary surgery cancellations that cause immense distress for both staff and patients.

Media enquiries:
Jack Bloom MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health
082 333 4222

[Image source]