The Eastern Cape MEC of Health, Nomakhosazana Meth, has blamed Covid-19 to explain why her Department failed to implement a resolution of the Eastern Cape Legislature that would see that the suppliers of Livingstone Hospital be paid so that life-saving surgery can be performed.
Three weeks ago I tabled a motion in the Legislature, where I raised the plight of patients at Livingstone Hospital who cannot be operated on because the Department failed to pay suppliers of crucial medical equipment and implants for several years.
The motion was adopted by all members of the Legislature, with a resolution that called for the Department to immediately settle all outstanding accruals to Johnson & Johnson and other service providers for vital equipment required in orthopaedic surgeries.
The Department of Health has chosen to ignore the resolution. As of 15 June, not one cent has been paid and as of the end of last week, not a single surgery had taken place.
In her response, Meth blamed the Covid-19 pandemic, saying this had impacted on elective surgeries, but that they were working to address the backlog.
Covid-19 is an easy scapegoat. The backlog is due to the non-payment of suppliers, who have been carrying the cost of supplying the hospital with medical equipment dating as far back as 2018.
MEC Meth also chose to accuse suppliers of corruption, stating that some suppliers had double invoiced the Department for supplies.
While the MEC shifts the blame, patients are still lying in agony, awaiting operations while doctors stand by helplessly, unable to fulfil the Hippocratic Oath they swore to uphold, because the Department of Health has failed them.
The Democratic Alliance will continue to fight for these patients to ensure that they get access to the medical treatment they so desperately need.
I will be submitting detailed follow up questions to MEC Meth, that she substantiates her allegations of corruption by suppliers.
A Health Department that feels entitled to ignore a directive from elected representatives, is a damning indictment on our provincial government and goes a long way in explaining the mess that the Department is in.