Orthopaedic operations delayed

Hajiera Safodien is one of 20 patients who had orthopaedic elective surgeries cancelled at Victoria Hospital.

A Strandfontein woman is in agony after her much needed knee operation, scheduled a year ago, was cancelled.

The spike in trauma cases, caused by gang violence, stabbings, shootings, abuse and accidents, specifically car accidents, at Victoria Hospital in Wynberg, has put a hold on all orthopaedic surgeries which had been booked in advance.

About 20 patients out of the 400 on the elective orthopaedic surgery waiting list have received letters informing them that their surgery had been cancelled until further notice.

Victoria Hospital serves patients from the southern sub-district of the Western Cape, which ranges from Wynberg to Kommetjie and Hout Bay.

Hajiera Safodien, 66, who has been an orthopaedic outpatient at the hospital since 2014, was given her last cortisone injection on September 21 last year, in preparation for an orthopaedic pre-operation appointment scheduled for September 27 this year.

Instead she was given a cancellation letter dated September 24.

She has since written to Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo to reconsider the moratorium on all orthopaedic elective surgeries at the hospital.

“I am a retired nurse from Valkenberg and Lentegeur psychiatric hospitals. I have done my service. I feel that senior citizens play a pivotal role in shaping this country and should not be neglected in this way,” she wrote in her letter.
Ms Safodien, who lost her husband earlier this year and lives with her daughter, told the Plainsman the pain impedes her movement and independence.

“I humbly request that you seriously look into the plight of the elderly, who are being deprived of the much needed surgery, to ensure a better quality of life,” she said.

She said the longer one had to wait for surgery the more of a burden patients were on the state health system, with the need for additional treatment and medication.

“Our physical well-being also determines our mental health, which is important to maintain a sane living environment,” she said.

“The pain can also be debilitating, which is a point I do not want to reach,” she said.

While provincial health department spokesperson Monique Johnstone, for the Klipfontein, Mitchell’s Plain and Western 
and Southern sub-structures, 
empathised with Ms Safodien, 
she said decisions were based 
on medical guidelines, which helped doctors determine which cases were elective or emergency surgeries.

She said surgery remained the most effective method to manage patients’ pain but that the hospital could not cope with the demand for orthopaedic surgeries.

Ms Johnstone said the surge in trauma had placed increased pressure on services at Victoria Hospital
The three operating theatres have been running at full pace and all surgical disciplines had been able to cope with the increased trauma load, with the exception of orthopaedic surgery, she said.

“Unfortunately, elective surgery must sometimes be cancelled due to trauma cases.

“We recognise that this may cause inconvenience to patients,” she said.

Ms Johnstone assured the Plainsman that no other hospitals had been affected.

“It is important to note that elective surgeries were not 
cancelled totally but rather reduced for six-months, but has since 
been restarted at a reduced pace 
to try and accommodate patients waiting for elective surgery,” 
she said.

In the interim patients can use painkillers and assistive devices as per the doctor’s advice, she added.

Ms Johnstone said the hospital’s management would do their best to get through the massive trauma load and the elective surgery waiting list.

Colleen Smart, spokesperson for Dr Mbombo, confirmed receipt of Ms Safodien’s letter on Thursday October 4, which was referred to the department for investigation.