'There is a drop from 100 assaults a week to 36 to due to alcohol ban, curfew'
President Cyril Ramaphosa last Sunday reinstated the ban of alcohol, citing that the resumption of alcohol sales has resulted in substantial pressure on hospitals.
Has the ban on alcohol decreased the pressure in trauma units at hospitals?
Clement Manyathela facilitates a discussion on the effects of the overnight alcohol ban on trauma units with Netcare trauma and emergency care head Mande Toubkin, Helen Joseph trauma unit head Dr Patricia Saffy and Groote Schuur Hospital trauma unit operations manager Carmen Miller.
We have clearly seen a decrease in the number of trauma-related incidences like assault with stabbing and assault without stabbing as well as motor vehicle collisions.Dr Patricia Saffy, Trauma unit head - Helen Joseph Hospital
When the ban was lifted at the beginning of June, there were almost 100 assaults in that week, she says.
This week we only saw 36 assaults, so there has been a massive drop. From a 100 per week to just 36 assaults. The trauma statistics have reduced tremendously due to the ban and curfew.Dr Patricia Saffy, Trauma unit head - Helen Joseph Hospital
Miller agrees with Saffy and says Groote Schuur Hospital totals have also decreased amazinngly due to the ban and the curfew.
The week before the ban was reinstated, we were seeing up to 120 patients and since the ban the assaults and gun shot wound cases have decreased amazingly.Carmen Miller, Trauma unit operations manager - Groote Schuur Hospital
Saffy explains that even though Helen Joseph is equipped to deal with a high number of sick patients, the COVID-19 pandemic is different and new thus everyone has to relearn things.
We can manage the patients if we don't have to deal with a huge volume of trauma that comes into the department. We are used to large volumes but if we have huge volume of trauma patients and an incredible amount of COVID-19 patients coming in, it affects the system as it was managing at capacity before the pandemic.Dr Patricia Saffy, Trauma unit head - Helen Joseph Hospital
Miller says no hospital expected this pandemic and even though there is staff and beds, if all those beds are taken by COVID-19 patients something had to be done.
Our trauma patients have decreased since the alcohol ban and that has made a difference. However, we must also think of our staff, some of our staff are also testing positive and we need to accomodate them also.Carmen Miller, Trauma unit operations manager - Groote Schuur Hospital
Toubkin says there is a connection between alcohol and trauma and during Level 5 lockdown, trauma had significantly decreased by 51%.
When we went down to Level 3, our emergency department reported that there was a significant increase in motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian-vehicle accidents, domestic violence and alcohol-related trauma.Mande Toubkin, Trauma and emegency care head - Netcare
Listen below to the full conversation:
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