Radiation machines fail at Pretoria hospital

According to Jack Bloom, DA spokesperson for Gauteng Health, the supplier, Siemens, has refused to service and repair the four radiation machines at the hospital since November last year as several million rand are owed to them by the Gauteng Health Department.

The radiation machines are used to shrink dangerous cancer tumours.

Health department response

According to Simon Zwane, spokesman for the Gauteng Health Department, two machines were still working until yesterday. ‘€œTechnicians are working on them today and they will hopefully be up and running later today or tomorrow,’€ Zwane told Health-e.

Although only two machines are being repaired at the moment, Zwane said repairs to the other two machines will follow shortly. However, he did not want to comment on how long it is expected to take until all four machines is expected to be working.

The department paid R500,000 to service provider Siemens last week and would pay a further R2.6 million next week, he said.

According to the latest reports, two of the radiation machines will be repaired today. ‘€œBut even then the hospital will only be providing this service at half capacity,’€ said Bloom.

No treatment

‘€œSeventy cancer patients are affected today [Wednesday], and there is a backlog of 120 patients needing treatment as no new appointments have been made in the past two weeks,’€ Bloom said in a statement.

‘€œThe department claims that progress is being made in paying suppliers, but here is a non-payment case that is endangering many lives.’€

Zwane countered that patients were under the care of doctors and that if a patient’s treatment was postponed it would be for medical reasons.

Poor state of cancer services

Linda Greef, director of People Living with Cancer, expressed her concern not only over the current situation at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital, but also on the general state of affairs of the country’€™s health system.

‘€œThis is indicative of poor financial management of the current government, especially the provincial government departments responsible for these non-payment defaults that impact on the lives of people so profoundly,’€ said Greef.

‘€œA government that cannot keep their commitments and cannot manage their finances needs to take responsibility and explain to their constituents why this is happening and what is going to be done.

‘€œMore that 42 million South Africans are dependent on the government sector for medical services, while only eight million make use on private-sector care. [Public] services levels and governance has to change,’€ said Greef.

Equal service levels

Greef also highlighted the need for quality health care services for cancer patients across all provinces: ‘€œAll cancer patients should have access to the same services and drugs in all provinces in South Africa.’€



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