Controversial Addington radiotherapy machine to be scrapped and replaced

08 September 2017 - 11:12 By Jeff Wicks
Addington Hospital paediatric unit head Dr Noxolo Mbadi revealed how critical staff and equipment shortages had crippled her unit.
Addington Hospital paediatric unit head Dr Noxolo Mbadi revealed how critical staff and equipment shortages had crippled her unit.
Image: THULI DLAMINI

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health is expected to scrap one of the controversial Addington Hospital radiotherapy machines at the heart of an oncology crisis in the province.

This was revealed by Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo‚ who was briefing members of parliament's select committee on social services on Thursday. The R150-million Varian radiotherapy machines‚ named Nkandla and Nguni‚ have been out of commission for nearly four years as a contractual dispute between the department and the supplier raged.

Earlier this year the South African Human Rights Commission found that the Department of Health had failed its cancer patients‚ posed a serious threat to their lives and was denying them their right to life and human dignity‚ among other findings.

The investigation by the SAHRC followed a compliant lodged by the DA’s Dr Imran Keeka‚ a member of the provincial legislature‚ in February last year.

He complained that a dire staffing crisis in oncology specialists and other medical staff‚ coupled with insufficient and non-functioning oncology machines and delays in treating patients‚ had adversely affected cancer patients in the province.

Speaking at the Nkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital on Thursday night‚ Dhlomo delivered a progress report on the interventions that have been instituted in the wake of the damning report.

He said that technicians from Varian had assessed the machines and presented the department with two courses of action: either repair and upgrade the software of both machines or repair one and procure a new machine.

Dhlomo said it would be cheaper to replace one of the machines and repair the other.

Dhlomo said the the process would move forward in earnest after discussions with a task team that had been assembled to tackle the oncology crisis.

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