Health Department blows budget on cadres, not service delivery

Issued by Jane Cowley, MPL
Shadow MEC for Health

The Eastern Cape Department of Health, already in financial crisis, continues to spend what little money is still available to it on the wrong things, prioritising a bloated administration over basic service delivery.

Of the R26,5 billion given to the Department for the 2021/2022 financial year, R4,3 billion has already been paid out to settle outstanding accruals from the previous financial year. That’s a shocking 16% of the total budget!

Of the remaining R22,2 billion, a whopping R3,45 billion (15% of the remaining budget) is spent on a bloated administration of non-medical personnel, while just R1,54 billion (7% of the remaining budget) is allocated to Goods and Services.

This is according to EC Health MEC, Nomakhosazana Meth, in response to a parliamentary question.

Download: IQP 10 question 246

Goods and Services include medical and theatre equipment, medication, oxygen and soft services such as food, linen, laundry services and security services. These are the nuts and bolts of a functional hospital or clinic, and it is impossible for any institution to run effectively without them.

The bloated administration, however, still has no concrete, approved staff organogram and cadre deployment takes precedence. The more the administration has grown, the worse the health services have become.

Provincial and tertiary hospitals with between 600 and 1 000 beds require Goods and Services budgets of at least R500 million per annum if they are to function optimally. They have received less than half of this.

By the end of August, Goods and Services budgets at hospitals will be depleted, and service providers will simply stop providing services, or inflate prices to carry the costs while waiting to be paid in the next financial year. This chaos is unsustainable.

I will write to the MEC Meth, to request that a detailed Administrative Rationalisation Programme be instituted with immediate effect, so that monies wasted on unnecessary administrative posts can be channelled to Goods and Services budgets.

I will further request that those senior officials responsible for flagrant employment of unqualified cadres be held to account.

If drastic steps are not taken forthwith, the health system in our province will collapse. This, at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic rears its head for the third time and our vaccination programme is stalling.

In a capable state, the welfare of people takes precedence over salaries for girlfriends. It is time that the Provincial Government puts the people before politics and fixes this mess. A collapsed healthcare system is too terrible to contemplate.