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Broken MRI scanners leave patients waiting 'months' at Gauteng public hospitals

01 September 2019 - 11:11 By TimesLIVE
MRI scanners produce detailed images of organs inside the human body. Stock photo.
MRI scanners produce detailed images of organs inside the human body. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/zlikovec

Four out of eight Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines at Gauteng public hospitals are broken, leading to waiting times of up to nine months for the diagnosis of patients.

Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku has revealed, in a written reply to a question in the provincial legislature, that the worst situation was at Chris Hani Baragwanath where 607 patients were waiting nine months for a MRI scan.

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DA MPL Jack Bloom said in a statement on Sunday that the MEC’s response to questions indicated that the MRI machine at Helen Joseph Hospital had been broken since March and Steve Biko’s MRI machine broke down a month ago.

“The Chris Hani Baragwanath and George Mukhari hospitals … can only rely on one machine as the other ones are broken,” he said.

“Kalafong hospital has a functioning MRI machine, and the sole MRI at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital is working but is very old and needs to be replaced urgently.”

The health MEC revealed scan waiting times at various hospitals, including:

  • Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg - 761 patients waiting for seven months
  • George Mukhari - 298 adult patients and 120 children waiting for two to three months
  • Helen Joseph – the current waiting time was not given for 120 patients
  • Kalafong Hospital – 40 to 50 patients wait between five days and two weeks; and
  • Steve Biko - 200 patients wait from two to four months.

“MRI scans are a key diagnostic tool in modern medicine, but broken machines are causing extra suffering and life-threatening delays especially for cancer patients,” said Bloom.