News / South Africa / Health

Citizen Reporter
Reporter
2 minute read
18 Nov 2021
12:28 pm

Gauteng hospitals’ dirty laundry delays over 300 surgeries

Citizen Reporter

Linen shortages have disrupted surgeries at nine public hospitals and have resulted in the cancellation of about 325 operations.

Filthy hospital linen left for days. Picture: DA

The DA believes private laundromats can alleviate Gauteng hospitals’ critical linen shortage.

Gauteng health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi told the province’s legislature on Wednesday that linen shortages had disrupted surgeries at nine public hospitals and resulted in the cancellation of approximately 325 operations.

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

  • Far East Rand Hospital
  • Leratong Hospital
  • Mamelodi Hospital
  • Sebokeng Hospital
  • Jubilee Hospital
  • Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital
  • Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital
  • Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital
  • Helen Joseph Hospital

Mamelodi Hospital was the worst affected, with some 200 operations being cancelled due to linen shortages that persisted for two weeks.

Sebokeng Hospital cancelled about 80 cataract operations, Jubilee Hospital cancelled 18 operations, 15 operations were cancelled at Helen Joseph Hospital, nine operations at George Mukhari and three operations at Leratong Hospital. 

Although the Chris Hani Baragwanath and Charlotte Maxeke hospitals also experienced some linen shortages, they had back-up plans and were able to avoid cancelling surgeries.

“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,” said DA member of the provincial legislature (MPL) Jack Bloom.

Most linen shortages happened after machine breakdowns and inefficiency at two-state laundromats – Dunswart Laundry in Ekurhuleni and the Masakhane Laundry 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,” said Bloom.

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

Laundry services that are run by the Gauteng health department are notorious for inefficiencies and high costs.

“It is tragic that surgery is disrupted because of linen shortages which are easily avoidable with good management,” said Bloom. 

“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 a lower cost.”

Bloom said state laundromats needed to be fixed rapidly or phased out in favour of private ones, so that linen shortages don’t cause problems for hospitals. 

Compiled by Narissa Subramoney

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