Health Budget must protect hospital and clinic allocations

Issued by Jane Cowley, MPL
Shadow MEC for Health

The Eastern Cape Health Department needs to drastically cut its obscenely bloated non-medical staff cohort and protect the operational budgets of district, provincial and tertiary hospitals. This is the only way the Department will be able to improve its financial prospects for the 2022/2023 financial year and ensure that hospitals function effectively.

Last year it was revealed that a whopping R3,57 billion was spent on non-medical officials, while just R1,56 billion was spent on Goods and Services, which includes the provision of medical equipment, theatre equipment, orthopaedic equipment, medication, oxygen and soft services such as food, linen and security, to hospitals and clinics.

The Eastern Cape Department of Health has become an employment agency for the politically connected, with the provision of health services becoming secondary.

The Department currently carries outstanding accruals and payables of R4,4 billion, making it very clear that the Goods and Services budget is woefully inadequate.

Even more damning is that, throughout the year, money is siphoned off from hospital operational budgets to settle ever growing medico-legal claims.

Instead of curtailing non-essential expenditure, and redirecting funding to prioritise critical vacancies for specialists, doctors and nurses, the Department continues appointing non-medical health officials, many of them millionaire managers.

I shall write to the MEC for Health, Hon Nomakosazana Meth, to urge her to take concrete steps to reduce the bloated wage bill and substantially increase the Goods and Services budget, so that effective health care delivery in hospitals and clinics can once again resume.

The breakdown of the new budget, which comes into effect on 1 April, will reveal whether the department is serious about improving health outcomes which will reduce medico-legal claims against them, or whether they are just paying lip service to health while creating cushy jobs for pals.