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The San Fernando General Hospital.

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After several weeks of cancellations, the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) has resumed elective surgeries.

This was confirmed by officials of the Southwest Regional Health Authority.

However, concerns have been raised about the lengthy waiting list.

In a statement, former medical director Dr Anand Chatoorgoon said the decision by the Ministry of Health to suspend elective surgeries at the public hospitals was uncalled for and unwarranted.

“The superfluous decision by Minister Deyalsingh to cancel elective surgeries for the poor and needy who cannot afford the exorbitant prices at private healthcare institutions, and to offer only emergency and urgent surgeries at the nation’s public hospitals have resulted in much pain and suffering for the many patients in all the surgical specialities who are in need of surgery,” Chatoorgoon said.

He added, “Already the waiting lists in most of the surgical specialities is long with patients having to wait as long now as two years for elective surgery.”

He explained that the San Fernando General Hospital offers surgical services in practically every surgical speciality, the notable exception being cardio-thoracic surgery.

“The surgical specialities at the SFGH include adult and pediatric surgery in orthopaedics, general surgery, ears-nose-throat, eyes, plastic and burns, neurosurgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, vascular surgery, oncology and urology. Many doctors at the SFGH hold the view that elective surgeries could have continued at the SFGH during the COVID-19 pandemic at least in a controlled and limited way so as to avoid the already long surgical waiting lists from going longer and longer.”

Saying the cancellations of surgeries could have been avoided with proper planning, Chatoorvoon said, “The Minister of Health needs to tell the population how he plans to catch up with the long backlog of patients awaiting surgery when he knows very well that elective surgeries at the SFGH usually stop around 2 pm each day of the week Monday to Friday because of a shortage of theatre nurses. “

“Does the Minister have a plan in place to offer elective surgeries on the weekends on which days, at the present time, only urgent and emergency surgeries are done? And now that the Couva Hospital is functioning, does the Minister of Health have plans to eventually use the operating theatres at the Couva Hospital in order to clear up the backlog of patients awaiting surgery? And what about the Augustus Long Hospital,” he asked.