EC DoH MUST PAY MILLIONS OWED TO NELSON MANDELA METRO TO ENSURE CLINICS STAY OPEN

Since taking over the running of the municipality’s clinics last year, the EC Department of Health (DoH) has had to pay the city in excess of R90 million, of which only R19 million has been transferred. The city has not budgeted for the running of these clinics, yet is still footing the bill. The Democratic Alliance has received information that of the DoH does not pay by this Friday (04 May 2012) all the clinics will effectively be shut down.

In October last year the Eastern Cape Department of Health (DoH) strong-armed all the municipalities in the Eastern Cape to hand over the functioning and operations of all the Health Clinics to the department in anticipation of the National Health Insurance (NHI) roll-out.

In the Nelson Mandela Metro this was done, yet the city was still footing the bill. The department promised to pay the outstanding amount of over R90 million and to date has only transferred a mere R19 million.

Because the running of the clinics is now not budgeted for by the municipality, it does not take a financial genius to realise that the city is forced to siphon funds from other votes and projects to keep the clinics open.

It has now come to a stage that if the DoH does not pay at least R52 million of the outstanding amount by this Friday, all the clinics within the PE Metro will effectively be shut down, leaving thousands of patients out in the cold without much needed treatment and/or medication.

This will immediately place a significant amount of added pressure on the already overcrowded provincial hospitals.

It has been reported to the DA that the company supplying the clinics with nursing staff is owed almost R500 000 and will need to withdraw the nurses until further notice.

As of today (2 May 2012) there are no doctors that service the clinics and have been told by the municipality that they have been relieved of their duties with immediate effect. As it is, these doctors have not been paid since January 2012.

Health care in the PE Metro and the province is on the verge of complete collapse. It is imperative that the MEC of Health, Sicelo Gqobana, intervenes immediately to resolve this issue.

I have written to the MEC as well as the Superintendent-General, Dr. Siva Pillay to ascertain exactly what the reluctance to pay is. I will also submit parliamentary questions to this effect.

The department always tells us there are no budgetary problems when it comes to “budgeted” payments like this. It is time the department comes clean as to what the real problem is.