“Crisis at Joburg hospital cancer unit puts lives at risk”

News South Africa

Tebogo Msimanga |

“The cancer unit at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital (CMJH) is short of 71 staff, has frequent chemotherapy drugs out of stock, and has broken and out-of-date radiation machines.” Democratic Alliance (DA)  Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health Jack Bloom said this was revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to his questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

Bloom said it shows the dire situation for 1300 cancer patients even before the recent fire at the hospital closed the unit and made things even worse for them.

According to Mokgethi, the unit needs 175 staff to provide a proper service, but has only 104 staff. The shortages include Specialist oncologists, Radiation Therapists, Medical Physics Interns and  Oncology trained pharmacists.

The worst waiting list is for prostate cancer patients – 700 patients are on hormonal therapy and will wait from 3 to 5 years for radiotherapy.

Bloom said the alternative arrangements to treat cancer patients at the Chris Hani Baragwanath and Steve Biko hospitals are woefully inadequate, and the treatment delays are getting worse.Charlotte Maxeke was gutted by fire in April.

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