Public private partnership saves the lives of cancer patients

Public and private practice collaborate to deliver exceptional healthcare to patients in Port Elizabeth.


In August 2017, the Livingstone Oncology Department in Port Elizabeth, a public-sector healthcare facility, undertook maintenance and repair work on its radiation machines. The goal was to ensure the machines were upheld to the highest possible standards of operation. To minimise patient disruption and ensure continuity of care during this repair process, the department established a unique collaborative partnership with Equra Health’s Radiation Therapy unit located in Cancercare’s Langenhoven Drive Oncology Centre, in Newton Park, Port Elizabeth.

“For those patients relying on treatment at the Livingstone Oncology Department, the nearest state hospital would have been in East London, 300km away,” explains Chris Salmon, Regional Business Manager for Equra Health. “It wasn’t a feasible solution, so the team at Livingstone contacted the radiotherapy area manager at Equra Health, Veruschka Frantz, to see if it was possible to collaborate on an alternative course of action.”

The Livingstone Hospital Oncology Department’s Dr Adelaide De Freitas, a Radiation Oncologist, and Jenni Musson, the Head of Radiotherapy at Livingston Hospital, met with Veruschka Frantz and her team to develop a collaborative model that would ensure continuation of vital radiation therapy to patients throughout the repair period. Within a few days, an agreement between the two departments had been reached. It included the treatment and transportation of patients to the CancerCare practice in Port Elizabeth throughout the maintenance period.

“We treated 30 patients per day over a 5 -6-week period between 11am and -3pm, to allow for their transport to and from the premises,” says Frantz. “Patient care throughout the period has gone extremely smoothly – the treatment team consisted of government and private staff, who worked very well together to ensure that every one of the state patients received the care they needed.” Transport was arranged by Livingstone Hospital on a daily basis from Monday to Friday.

For both the CancerCare and the Livingstone Oncology Department’s teams, the experience has allowed team members to develop a unique relationship that goes to show how well the public and private sector can work together in the interest of cancer patients. Everyone involved has walked away with fresh insight and renewed understanding of the importance of access to Radiotherapy services and the impact of the socioeconomic challenges faced by patients in the Eastern Cape. The arrangement made a significant impact on the lives of those patients who would otherwise have been affected by the repairs. Many would have been forced to stay away from their families for the extended treatment time and would likely have had to incur additional expenses.

The collaborative partnership allowed for Livingstone Oncology Department to deliver seamless care to its patients while ensuring that its radiation machines were maintained to the highest possible standards. For patients, the agreement afforded them the opportunity to receive continuous care within their home city, and for practitioners it was an opportunity to learn and engage with other professionals while providing patients with the treatments they needed.

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