Public patients

Not everyone can afford private healthcare and worry that their treatment at a public healthcare facility will not be as efficient as the treatment offered elsewhere. Rest assured that treatment at a public health facility is guided by strict rules and regulations to ensure the best, and most appropriate treatment for your individual needs.


When you are diagnosed your treating doctor will discuss treatment options with you. Your doctor must explain the various procedures and drugs that can be used to treat your cancer, and all the side effects they may have. This is called informed consent and, by law, your doctor has to explain in detail – and in a manner that ensures you understand – what all these treatments entail.

Together you and your doctor will agree on what your treatment will include – this is called your

Treatment Plan

Once your Treatment Plan is agreed upon, the process of requesting the procedure and drugs from the relevant hospital departments can begin. At this point you may have to go to another department to meet with another doctor.


Once all the doctors have met with you the Professor of the Department will send your treatment plan to the hospital’s Pharmacy Services / Committee.


The Hospital Pharmacy Committee will respond to the Professor of the Department stating what they agree to pay for in your treatment plan. This normally takes a week or two.


The committee can accept the entire treatment plan as is and your doctor will inform you and your treatment can begin.

OR The committee can decline to pay some, or all, of the treatment plan. If this happens your doctor can either change your treatment plan or you can challenge this decision.


Challenging the decline of your treatment plan

While the private sector is very regulated on how patient complaints are handled, the public sector does not have a set process. The processes can differ from hospital to hospital and from Province to Province. The following processes can be undertaken in order to get your complaint heard.


Write a letter, detailing your complaint, to the Head of Department. Your doctors should be able to let you know who the correct person is and their contact details.


If you are not happy with the answer you receive from the Head of Department, forward your letter to the Superintendent (or CEO) of the hospital at which you are being treated.

Again your doctors should be able to help you with these contact details.


Only if all else has failed should you send a letter to your provincial Member of the Executive Council for the Department of Health. Contact details will be available on your province’s Department of Health website or you can call:

Eastern Cape – 0800 032 364

Free State – 0800 535 554

Gauteng – 0800 203 886

KwaZulu Natal – 033 395 2009

Limpopo – 0800 919 191

Mpumalanga – 0800 204 098

Northern Cape – 018 387 5778

Western Cape – 021 483 5624

Adapted from an article of For more on the promotion and protection of your rights with regard to policy, healthcare costs and healthcare delivery visit or call Dot on 082-878-1348