Clinic has no staff

Zinhle Mapumulo

Zinhle Mapumulo

Staff shortages have delayed the opening of a state-of-the-art breast cancer clinic at Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg.

The clinic aims to reduce the backlog of women being screened for breast cancer.

Helen Joseph Hospital management admitted yesterday that staff shortages were hampering operations at the clinic.

Gladys Segoshi, the hospital's chief executive, said that the hospital was in the process of hiring a breast cancer specialist and radiographers.

"We are busy interviewing, and specialists and radiographers have already been shortlisted. There is a backlog of women waiting to be screened due to the recent public service strike," she said.

Jack Bloom, the Democratic Alliance's Gauteng health spokesman, said the delay was endangering women's health.

"There are 400 patients waiting for breast scans, and new patients will only be seen in January next year. The two digital mammography machines bought for R10million in January last year stand unused because the new staff that was promised has yet to be hired," he said.

"In March, volunteers pitched in on Human Rights Day to cut down the backlog by 300 cases. Barely five months later the breast screening backlogs are up again due to lack of new staff," said Bloom.

He said that two of the six machines stood idle because of staff shortages. Only 25 of 40 required radiotherapists had been hired.

"The Gauteng health department is failing in this area of women's health," Bloom said.