Gwen Ramokgopa. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Gwen Ramokgopa. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

Cancer patients have been subjected to longer waiting times at the Charlotte Maxeke hospital in Johannesburg‚ according to DA Gauteng health spokesperson Jack Bloom.

Member of the provincial legislature Bloom said five machines had broken down at the hospital since January 2017. He said Gauteng health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa disclosed this in a written reply to his questions in the Gauteng legislature.

"According to Ramokgopa‚ three of the linear accelerator machines broke down‚ two of which have been fixed and the third condemned for replacement. A cobalt machine failed but is now functional‚ and an orthovoltage machine that broke is not due for replacement until 2025‚" Bloom said in a statement.

"Ramokgopa says ‘the breakdown of machines led to an increase waiting times; however, the hospital prioritises repairs and maintenance’. Furthermore‚ Bloom quotes Ramokgopa as saying "there is a need for a replacement plan for the machines which are estimated to be 14 years old … a strategic equipment replacement plan for five years has been developed".

Bloom said he was also concerned that three out of nine consultant posts at the cancer unit were vacant.

"I have received complaints from cancer patients about delays in treatment‚ but Ramokgopa ducked my question on waiting lists and waiting times by saying that it ‘varies from month to month’," Bloom said.

"It is unacceptable to give such a vague answer‚ which I suspect is because long waiting times are worsening the survival prospects of cancer patients."