Hospersa Logo


24 March 2017


The Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) is slamming the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Department of Health for failure to resolve the ongoing cancer treatment crisis in the province.  The Union calls upon the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi to urgently address what it calls a crisis in the KZN provincial health department.


According to reports at least two cancer patients’ families are attributing their untimely deaths to the non-functional cancer treatment equipment at the Addington Hospital in Durban, KZN.  Both patients were referred to Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital in Cato Manor as the machines at Addington were said to be broken, but the waiting periods involved were too long and both patients eventually died from the cancer.  It is reported that with the modern radiotherapy machines around sixty to eighty percent of patients can survive cancer.


“Hospersa condemns in the strongest terms the way the Department [of Health (DoH)] is dealing with this burning issue,” said Hospersa General Secretary Noel Desfontaines.  “It seems that this problem is just dragging on without government stepping in and fixing the problem.  Meanwhile people are suffering and, as we see now, even dying,” Desfontaines remarked.


Hospersa previously reported on the non-maintenance of the machines used for treatment, and also staged a picket outside Addington Hospital in 2014.  Apparently the two machines at Addington have for much of the time not been in proper working order since 2012.  Much of this is reported to be because of poor management and even alleged corruption.  The corruption relates to the procurement of maintenance services for the machines, where the authorised provider was turned down in favour of a local company which is believed to have links with senior government officials.


Hospersa at the time highlighted the serious shortage of staff with the necessary skills to perform their important work, especially in KZN.  The Union said that this becomes a vicious circle when oncologists resign due to the terrible circumstances they are expected to work under.  The net effect is that once a patient is diagnosed with cancer, he or she can literally die before receiving treatment.  Hospersa estimates that 85% of the citizens living in KZN are dependent on public healthcare.


“Poor management is obviously the root cause of what we see here,” said Desfontaines.  “Senior government officials who are paid huge salaries are failing to make the right decisions in order to fulfil their mandate.  This poor decision-making can either be due to incompetence, or due to ulterior motives such as corruption.  Unfortunately, while lacking skills can be addressed, the greed of corruption has to be exposed and rooted out in order to stop the scourge,” he added. 


“We now call on the Minister [of Health] to urgently intervene in KZN so that we address the suffering caused by the [provincial] Health Department,” Desfontaines concluded.



Total words (excluding heading):  474


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


Hospersa – The Trade Union of Choice for Service Workers in the Public and Private Sector
Please visit us on 
www.hospersa.co.za to see what we stand for and what we do