Scope theft leaves patients in agony

Kidney stone sufferers say they often wet themselves while waiting for help

Livingstone Hospital
Livingstone Hospital
Image: Google Maps

For the past year doctors at Livingstone Hospital have been unable to remove kidney stones following a brazen theft of a flexiscope from the hospital.

Hospital sources say there are several patients in agonising pain who can now only receive stents in theatre, in the hope the kidney stones will dislodge and be passed.

They said the waiting list for treatment with the scope was very long.

While the sources insist the problem has been ongoing for the past year, hospital CEO Thulane Madonsela’s office refused to confirm the date of the theft. Madonsela said the hospital’s flexiscope had been stolen and another machine was damaged beyond repair and needed to be replaced.

“The process of claiming the replacement equipment from the insurer of the security company is in process.”

This comes as Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba, in a report released earlier this year, highlighted the failure to maintain and replace medical equipment as a major problem in the Eastern Cape’s public health facilities.

In a report tabled in parliament on Thursday, the Eastern Cape and Limpopo were shown to have the lowest levels of compliance with health standards in the country.

An area of major concern was the failure to keep medical equipment in proper working order and the availability of medical equipment.

Since the theft, vehicles have been subjected to thorough searches at hospital entrances.

Madonsela said patients were being given stents to widen the urethra, but this was a temporary measure.

Health spokesman Lwandile Sicwetsha said this was being done as a way to assist patients while the insurance claims were being processed.

He said that the hospital had decided to rent another flexiscope for the next year while the insurance claim was being finalised.

Sicwetsha said the Department of Health was studying the contract between the department and its security company to see if there were any clauses that addressed the breach of security.

DA health spokeswoman Celeste Barker said the party was urging the Eastern Cape department of health to admit that there were major service delivery challenges and to make plans to prevent further failure or vital equipment shortages.

Patients, who feared reprisal from hospital authorities and who asked to remain anonymous said they often would wet themselves and were in excruciating pain while waiting for help.