Cancer pa­tients get ready to sue

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - ZOHRA TEKE

THE Depart­ment of Health in KwaZulu-Na­tal faces le­gal ac­tion from state cancer pa­tients run­ning into mil­lions of rands fol­low­ing the re­cent find­ing it had vi­o­lated their rights to care and treat­ment.

“We are al­ready see­ing a spike in queries fol­low­ing the rul­ing and are con­sult­ing with some clients around this mat­ter. The rul­ing against the depart­ment by the South African Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion (SAHRC) is prece­dent-set­ting even though it is yet to be tested in court,” lawyer Ahmed Amod said.

The re­port found the depart­ment had failed in its obli­ga­tion to pro­vide ad­e­quate on­col­ogy ser­vices. The com­mis­sion also found the depart­ment had failed to pro­cure, main­tain or put in place CT scan­ners within a rea­son­able time.

The po­ten­tial law suits will place fur­ther pres­sure on ta depart­ment al­ready fac­ing more than R10 billion in neg­li­gence claims and a fail­ing health sys­tem.

Amod cau­tioned against de­pend­ing on the rul­ing alone to sue and urged pa­tients to con­sider their op­tions care­fully.

“The rul­ing can­not be used as prima fa­cie ev­i­dence on its own in a civil suit, but can cer­tainly be used to sup­port a po­ten­tial case. The claimant will also need to prove with­out doubt that their cancer was ad­versely af­fected by the ac­tions of the depart­ment.”

“Given the costs of cancer care and treat­ment, a po­ten­tial case against the depart­ment could run into mil­lions, but each one will need to be looked at on its own merit based on the facts at hand.”

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