KZN hospital workers demand answers

2013-06-14 22:45

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Durban - About 100 health workers picketed at Durban's Addington Hospital on Friday about the fact that the hospital's two radio therapy machines were left idle for five months.

In a memorandum handed to an official they demanded an explanation from Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo.

"[He must] supply the full facts surrounding the entire Addington radiotherapy debacle," they said in the document.

Tecmed, the company which installed the two Varian Rapid Arc Linear Accelerators and is responsible for maintaining them, stopped servicing the machines in January.

This, after the department stopped paying the maintenance contract nine months earlier.

The department has claimed that Tecmed fraudulently obtained the tender for the two machines.

Last month, Dhlomo announced that the department would start paying the contract and a few days later Tecmed serviced the machines.

Dhlomo blamed Tecmed for machines' failure to operate. He believed the department had a strong case against the company.

He said the resumption of payments would be on a month-to-month basis pending the outcome of investigations, and pending negotiations with Varian, the manufacturer of the machines, which are called Varian Rapid Arc Linear Accelerators.

Tecmed, which is the South African agent for Varian, has denied any wrongdoing.

The department said it had opened two cases with the police against Tecmed in May and July 2010, but that the company had not been charged.

Patients denied treatment

In Friday's memorandum, the Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union (Hospersa) accused the department of denying cancer patients treatment, "causing some of them to move from being treatable to terminal".

"This is a human rights violation that should be a matter of concern for the SA Human Rights Commission [SAHRC]."

The union said the fact that patients from Addington had been placed on waiting lists at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital did not "translate into treatment".

Hospersa spokesperson Michelle Conolly said the union was working on a submission which it would submit to the SAHRC.

Several of the protesters had banners and placards.

One of them read: "Cancer Kills, so does our government", and another: "Apologise Now MEC Dhlomo".

The union also wanted the department to fill vacant posts, and to end what it described as financial mismanagement in the department.

Read more on:    hospersa  |  sibongiseni dhlomo  |  durban  |  health

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