National News

Surgery put on hold for SWC

2010-06-02 08:10

Antoinette Pienaar, Beeld

Pretoria - State patients who are on the waiting list for elective surgery at Steve Biko Academic hospital will have to step aside during the Soccer World Cup, so that the hospital can have open beds in case of emergencies in Pretoria.

This is what a 51-year-old woman from Pretoria was told, one day before she would have had an operation to repair a hernia.

Cathy van Heerden from Pretoria North said on Tuesday she suffers from severe pain and discomfort.

Keep beds open

"In February they told me I must be admitted on April 13. There were no beds, and I was told to return on Tuesday. The doctor called me on Monday and said I shouldn't come in, because they have to keep the beds open for the soccer."

Van Heerden had a hysterectomy in January 2005. The wound became septic and took nearly a year to heal.

"Now there's a hernia practically over my whole abdomen and it feels like skin is the only thing keeping my organs inside. Sometimes I can even feel my small intestine. When that happens, I just push it back in."

Apparently her doctor said she would need major operation in order for her intestines and organs can be held in place with gauze.

"Why should we, the regular citizens of this country, step aside for the soccer? We do have the right to health care, after all."

Hospital spokesperson Fredah Kobo told Beeld it's possible that the patient might have misunderstood when the issue was communicated to her.

"Our hospital has been designated to receive P1 cases (serious emergencies) during the World Cup.

"Doctors were asked to limit elective (planned and/or non-essential) operations between June 1 and July 12."

'Shouldn't harm patient'

Mandla Sidu, spokesperson for the Gauteng health department, emphasised that doctors must use their discretion. "These decisions shouldn't harm the patient."

Dr Trevor Fisher, head of Dr George Mukhari hospital in GaRankuwa, said this hospital won't limit elective surgeries unless there's an emergency.

The hospital will help by taking over patients from Steve Biko Academic Hospital, for instance, if there were a huge disaster, such as a bomb explosion or a bus crash.

According to Fisher, Steve Biko Academic Hospital has to remain available, since it is close to Loftus Versfeld stadium.

Fidel Hadebe from the national department of health said the allegation that there is a formal agreement with FIFA to keep South Africa's hospitals half-empty during the World Cup is not true.

Read more on:    fifa  |  health


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