KZN cancer machine crises: Where does the buck stop?

Dr Imran Keeka, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Health

The Democratic Alliance is appalled by reports that radiotherapy machines at Addington and several other major hospitals are again ‘out of order’ after the province’s Health department allegedly failed to pay the company contracted to service the machines.

This is not the first time that these machines have been inoperative due to supposed bungling by the DOH, leaving patients waiting up to six months to receive treatment.

Radiotherapy machines in a large hospital such as Addington are not a luxury.  They are a necessity. Added to the crisis are reports that machines at King Edward and Prince Mshiyeni are also not working.  All of these hospitals see patients from vast areas and offer specialised treatments that require working equipment and no shortages.  Otherwise people die.

There can be no doubt that KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo is aware of this disgraceful state of affairs.  The questions he must answer are – why has the department allowed this to happen again?  Why have they not taken drastic action to remedy the situation? Who was responsible for the alleged non-payment?  Exactly where the buck stops must be determined and heads must roll.

The fact that the machines are not working also raises concerns around medico-legal action against the department.  Patient’s whose cancer progresses more rapidly, or resurfaces as a lack of treatment, will take action against the state.

As the department lurches from one crisis to the next, it is increasingly clear that it is an uncaring and crumbling entity led by an MEC who has lost control of this portfolio.

The DA expects the MEC to take immediate action to ensure that this and other infra-structure and contract management issues are urgently addressed and begin to take charge of his department.