The Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children (LRH), the national centre for paediatric heart surgery yesterday (5), criticized the Ministry of Health for not encouraging postgraduate trainees to take up paediatric cardiac surgery to fill the acute shortage at the hospital.
Hospital sources said yesterday, the shortage had been severely felt by the Hospital’s Paediatric Cardiac Unit after one of its three paediatric cardiac surgeons retired from service. However, the Ministry has had no option but, to bring him back from retirement to cope with the need, the sources noted.
For over three weeks now, the Hospital has had only two paediatric cardiac surgeons, and they also stated that the Hospital had only three cardiac theatres. A minimum of four paediatric cardiac surgeons are needed for the theatres to run fulltime, they said.
“Nothing is being done to meet this need. Therefore, the Hospital has had to send some of its patients to the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital (KTH). The LRH has a cardiac surgery waiting list of about 500 to 800 paediatric patients, at present. However, the shortage of surgeons to meet this demand has caused a severe dilemma as some of these patients either die while waiting for a date for their surgery or they have passed the age during which the surgery should be performed, thus creating further complications.”
The Hospital has written to all the relevant authorities and the colleges of medicine to draw their attention to the issue which is impacting the children of the country, but to no avail, they said.
These were children of poor parents who had no option but to seek the help of the LRH as they could not afford the private sector, they highlighted.
Sources said that post-graduate trainees are sent to all other areas of medicine except to the paediatric cardiac theatres of the LRH to observe, learn and train. “We understand the fact that it is stressful but unless one has the feel of it one would never know if one likes it or not.”
Sources also said that to resolve the issue did not require a three or four member committee. “Neither does it require rocket science, only a few interested people who have the patients’ interests in mind.”
Meanwhile, Director General of Health Services, Dr. Anil Jasinghe, when contacted, confirmed that the Ministry had re-recruited the retired paediatric cardiac surgeon to the LRH while steps had also been taken to assign the paediatric cardiac surgeons of the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital, on three days of the week, to the Lady Ridgeway Hospital.