Weekend Surgery Initiative Alleviates Children’s Hospital's Surgery Waiting List | Western Cape Government

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Weekend Surgery Initiative Alleviates Children’s Hospital's Surgery Waiting List

18 August 2014

The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital is running its fourth annual weekend surgery initiative, previously referred to as Saturday Surgeries, for nine weeks from 5 July until 30 August 2014.

The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital does not usually conduct elective anaesthetic lists over weekends, but the project will provide an extra day of procedures on Saturdays to significantly lessen the hospital’s waiting lists for life-changing procedures such as general paediatric surgery, paediatric Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgery, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, said that this project is only possible through the contributions from donors. “This is another example where the participation of the private sector strengthened the hand of government, and we were able to come up with a plan to shorten the waiting list for children who are now able to move on with their lives. It is a demonstration of a caring society".

Donors which included the Gift of the Givers, the South African Zakáh Fund (SANZAF) and the African Muslim Agency, have all come on board via the Hospital's Facility Board to fund this project which was sponsored by the Children’s Hospital Trust in 2011 and 2012.

“Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital is well known nationally and internationally, for the complex surgical procedures performed on children from all of the surgical specialties. Performing these intricate, time consuming operations often leads to the cancellation of many of the patients with minor surgical conditions due to time constraints and pressure on beds”, says Dr Anita Parbhoo, Medical Manager at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

This Surgical Waiting List Initiative has been running as an annual project, with the first project in 2011. The idea is that once a big volume of these relatively minor cases are taken off the waiting list, there would be scope for more flexibility for theatre lists during the week. More complex cases which are also a priority, could then be given some additional time created by the reduction in the waiting lists.

The Day Surgery Unit, which is not in use on the weekends, has been chosen as the main site for this project. This will ensure that this project will not have any negative impact on other patients requiring beds over the weekend. In order to have maximum impact on the day, only experienced Specialists will be involved in doing the cases. This will ensure that the available time is used efficiently.

“This year, we are doing additional surgeries for paediatric surgical disciplines as well as for MRI scan lists where the patient needs to be sedated under general anaesthesia. An MRI can take an hour to do and it is imperative that the patient lies still during this investigation as any movement interferes with the clarity of the images obtained. For young children, we often need to sedate them as they are not able to lie still for long periods of time. This has recently resulted in a longer waiting list for planned MRI’s – emergency MRI scans are usually done immediately", adds Parbhoo.

Saturday Surgeries Fact Sheet:

Duration: 22 October – 10 December
Disciplines: ENT Surgery and General Paediatric Surgery cases
Number of patients treated: 54

Duration: 1 September – 24 November (excluding 22 September due to it being a long weekend)
Disciplines: ENT Surgery, General Paediatric and Plastic Surgery
Number of patients treated: 87

Duration: 7 September – 26 October
Disciplines: ENT Surgery and General Paediatric Surgery cases
Number of patients treated: 79

Summary of 2014 Project:
Number of Saturday Lists: 9
Date: 5 July – 30 August 2014
Disciplines: Paediatric Surgical Disciplines (General Paediatric Surgery and Paediatric ENT Surgery) and MRI
Number of patients treated so far: 47

Media Enquiries: 

Angelique Jordaan
Communications Officer: Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital
Tel: 021 658 5448
E-mail: angelique.jordaan@westerncape.gov.za