File picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla/Independent Media

Johannesburg - A number of challenges facing Gauteng state hospital have been brought under the spotlight after revelations that patients are expected to wait for as long as three years for treatment.

According to the DA Shadow MEC for Health Jack Bloom, the waiting times for cancer treatment at the Charlotte Maxeke hospital have worsened over the years and about 400 prostate cancer patients are expected to wait for at least 10 months to three years for treatment.

“This information is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature,” Bloom said. 

“Hodgkin’s, bladder, rectum/anus, and head and neck cancers will take about six weeks to be treated, gynecological cancer from three to four months and prostate cancer between 10 months and three years,” he added. 

Bloom said that the four Linear Accelerator machines which treat cancer patients, have all broken down at least once since January 2018.

One of the two Cobalt machines has been broken for three years and one of the two simulators has not been working for two years, he said.

“There have also been shortages of 12 chemotherapy medicines, as well as morphine. I am most concerned that 17 out of 67 posts in the Oncology department are vacant - two consultants, five registrars and 10 radiation therapists are needed,” he said. 

“According to Masuku, the machine breakdowns, medicine shortages and staff vacancies have led to delays in treatment."

Bloom said in 2018, the hospital’s CEO Gladys Bogoshi said there were 300 prostate cancer patients who would wait two years for treatment. Recently the number increased to 400 and patients and they will have to wait for three years, Bloom said. 

“These delays cause much distress to patients and decreases their survival chances,” he added. 

However, Bloom said he was pleased that two new Linear Accelerator machines will be bought in November.

He also said more needs to be done in appointing qualified staff as well as working extra hours to make up the huge backlog. 

In July, Bloom raised concerns about the growing waiting list at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, where 828 hip replacement patients were awaiting treatment, 1141 waited for knee surgery and a further 3307 patients were awaiting cataract surgery. 

On his statement, Bloom said long waiting lists were due to the non-availability of theater time, inefficient use of the theaters, a shortage of staff particularly scrub and theater nurses and high staff absenteeism.

The Star