Cancer patients turned away from hospital

2012-03-12 17:01
Johannesburg - Cancer patients were turned away at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic hospital on Monday after a radiation machine could not be repaired due to a payment dispute.

"According to our records payment has already been made," hospital spokesperson Lungiswa Mvumvu said.

The dispute was with service provider Siemens.

"The problem is they could not accommodate all the patients because they already had bookings."

Alternative arrangements had been made for patients to be treated within the hospital.

"They will be put into appointments within the week, but it could stretch to two weeks."

The hospital was unsure when the machine would be fixed.

Democratic Alliance provincial health spokesperson Jack Bloom in a statement said the machine broke down last Friday.

"I visited the oncology department and found that this is one of eight radiation machines that treats about 300 patients daily. The breakdown of this machine means that more than 30 patients could not be treated [on Monday]."

Bloom said part of the problem was an intermediary company called Phambili that had a complicated payment arrangement with Siemens.

"I agree with national Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi that this type of middle man is a problem as it unnecessarily pushes up costs. Payment disputes in Gauteng must end so that patients do not continue to be victims."

The Gauteng health department acknowledged there was a problem with the hospital's equipment.

Spokesperson Simon Zwane said in a statement the department was in contact with Siemens, and had been assured the machine would be repaired as soon as payment was received.

"The department would like to assure the community that while the hospital is awaiting the repair of the radiation machine, service delivery and care of patients will not be compromised," Zwane said.

In February, four radiation machines at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria also failed because of non-payment to Siemens.

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