Breakdown in KZN radiology

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There is a growing crisis at government hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal where vital CT scan machines are not being serviced, have broken down, or not been acquired. According to a Sunday Tribune report, two independent sources, who did not want to be named, claimed that repeated appeals by district managers, area managers, area CEOs, medical managers of major hospitals and the radiology heads of eThekwini government hospitals, had failed to produce results.

“We have raised the issues of delays in supply chain management, non-existent radiology equipment service contracts and other concerns, repeatedly,” said the sources. "Promises are made by the KZN Department of Health, and then the goalposts are shifted and the promises are not kept."

The source said problems had been growing since 2011 and, at Nkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital – regarded as one of the finest in KwaZuluNatal – radiologists were hopelessly overburdened. He said that because there was no service contract in place at the RK Khan Hospital, and problems with CT machinery there, staff at Nkosi Albert Luthuli were processing far more patients than they could deal with. "There is a huge requirement for imaging," he said. "With the additional inpatient demand our waiting time for a CT scan has increased from the usual 24 to 48 hours, to an unacceptable five to 10 days."

On 9 June, in a meeting with representatives of the KZN Department of Health, the heads of radiology departments in the province again stressed that the situation was, as the source termed it, "catastrophic" for patients whose health depended on the early detection of disease through CT scans. Radiologists stressed at the meeting that they could no longer take up the slack caused by broken or ill-maintained CT equipment, and immediate intervention strategies were called for by senior medical officials of the health department.

The report says that in response to questions, health spokesperson Agiza Hlongwane said that Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo had addressed most of the concerns of radiologists and senior hospital personnel regarding the problems with CT scanning machinery, in his 2015/16 budget speech, delivered in mid-May.

Full Sunday Tribune report

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