The Democratic Alliance notes, sadly with no suprise, the Provincial Treasury’s demands that the Department of Health (DoH) cuts its budgetary expenditure by over R200 million.
Year on year, the DA has warned departmental officials that unless they immediately implement financial austerity measures, the department would find itself in the position it is today.
The cost cutting measures that have now been put in place are ones that should have been reviewed and considered years ago and now blanket implementation will severely risk the already dysfunctional state of healthcare service delivery in this province.
Although the measures implemented will save millions of rands, they will not make a notable difference to the existing and forecasted debt the department is in.
Recently the DoH has gone after the new doctores that have left the province without completing their community service requirements. Who can blame them when they’ve been told to not expect payment for the next two months at least. Imagine trying to make a financial comeback after this when you have student loans, car loans, rent and other expenses to cover.
Questions that need to be asked is how can we expect doctors to stay if other provinces are begging for them to go there and we don’t pay them, and why is it that the department is suddenly interested in the whereabouts of the doctors that are bound to the province now? Do they expect not to pay salaries for some time to come?
I reiterate my call for a complete overhaul of the Eastern Cape healthcare system as under the current system, the DoH only digs itself into a deeper debt hole. The Eastern Cape has a healthcare infrastructure backlog of over R19 billion. It is clear that without a complete overhaul or at the very least excessively strong austerity measures, or even national intervention, we will never start chipping away at this forver growing backlog that has direct consequences on the lives and wellbeing of the people of this province.
I have spoken to the Health Portfolio Committee chairperson, Mxolisi Dimaza, and have insisted that we investigate the matter and I will be submitting Parliamentary questions to acertain as to exactly the financial state of affairs at the DoH.