Latest adjustment budget won’t save EC Health Department: Administration the only solution

Issued by Jane Cowley, MPL
Shadow MEC for Health

The latest adjustments budget, tabled in the Eastern Cape Legislature last week, made it clear that there is simply not enough money available to rescue the failing Department of Health that is factually bankrupt.

Despite nearly a billion rand in additional funding, there is still a significant shortfall in what is needed to bring financial stability to the Department, which had accruals of close on R5 billion at the beginning of the financial year!

Finance MEC Mlungisi Mvoko announced Health’s baseline budget was increased by a net R896.8 million in the adjusted budget, which included R442 million for compensation of employees, R316.5 million for the payment of medico legal claims, R42 million for diesel and energy costs because of increased load shedding, and R38 million for the payment of Microsoft software licenses.

Less than half of this funding comes from the national adjustments budget. This means other fiscally responsible provincial departments have had to give up funding to bail out Health, which continues to spend money it does not have with impunity!

Certain programmes within the Department are incapable of managing budgets or meeting deadlines and targets.

The Department, along with the Office of the Premier and other stakeholders, have not been able to halt the tsunami of medico-legal claims against the department, which continue to decimate their finances.

The critical shortfall of funds has already resulted in services at hospitals and clinics deteriorating dramatically over the past few years.

High vacancy rates amongst doctors and specialists, coupled with a bloated and inefficient administration, have left hospitals and clinics reeling without budgets for the basics like laundry and catering for patients.

I have written to the Minister of Health, Joe Paahla, and the Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, to request that they place the Department under administration in terms of Section 100 (b) (i), to ensure that the delivery of health care services can continue in the province.

The only way we can break this cycle is to place the Department under administration until such time as it has brought the burgeoning contingent liability and accruals under control and is once again able to provide the health services that our citizens deserve.