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7 June 2017


The Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) is concerned by the poor state of cancer treatment in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).  The Union has lambasted the Department of Health (DoH) for its slow pace in addressing the crisis which has lead to mass resignations of oncologists from the public sector.

According to recent reports, Oncology services in KwaZulu-Natal’s public hospitals have collapsed as there are no more doctors left  to treat cancer.  There are only two oncologists left at Greys Hospital in Pietermaritzburg while the last cancer doctor at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital in Durban, is leaving the public sector before the end of this week.  Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital treats an estimated 80% of the province’s cancer patients.  It is reported that poor working conditions and the critical shortage of staff have been the attributing factors to the exodus of oncologists in the public sector.

“The cancer crisis in KZN public health institutions has been on the brink of despair for years and its no surprise that more and more oncologists are opting to work in private sector,” said Hospersa General Secretary Noel Desfontaines.  “Day-to-day challenges in public health institutions include non-maintenance of equipment, corruption scandals on the procurement of machinery and the critical shortage of staff resulting in oncologists being overworked.  These mass resignations could be the last straw that breaks a camel’s back,” added Desfontaines.

The KZN Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, cited more devastating news earlier this week with revelations that the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine would lose its Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) accreditation to train in oncology because there are no oncologists left in public health to train new cancer doctors.

“Hospersa condemns the Department’s poor handling of the cancer crisis in KZN,” said Desfontaines.  “The situation is being allowed to deteriorate with little action being done to address the crisis.  We reiterate that MEC Dhlomo needs to account for the poor state of cancer treatment in the province which has claimed so many lives,” added Desfontaines.

“Hospersa has been vocal about the cancer crisis in KZN since 2009 when the DoH was caught up in a multi-million rand corruption scandal involving the maintenance of machines.  Nothing has been done to address our concerns while poor working conditions, broken machines and the shortage of staff remain a thorn in a flesh.  As a result of the DoH mismanagement in the province, cancer patients are being deprived of a fighting chance to live,” concluded Desfontaines.


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For interviews please contact Hospersa General Secretary Noel Desfontaines – 083-321-4427.

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