The Gauteng Health Department owes R3.1 billion to 42 519 suppliers who have not been paid within the legally required 30 days.

This was disclosed last week at a meeting of the Gauteng Legislature’s Finance Committee.

Tembisa Hospital owes the most – R333 million to 1576 suppliers.

The Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital owes R234 million to 2908 suppliers, followed by the Far East Rand Hospital which owes R230 million to 1795 suppliers.

Recent problems of food supply at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital can be traced to the R226 million that the hospital owes to 2477 suppliers.

Other hospitals with large arrear payments include the following:

• George Mukhari owes R113 million to 2320 suppliers
• Steve Biko owes R95 million to 754 suppliers
• Thelle Mogoerane owes R86 million to 1696 suppliers
• Helen Joseph Hospital owes R70 million to 2093 suppliers
• Kalafong owes R69.6 million to 591 suppliers
• Sebokeng owes R67 million to 860 suppliers
• Tambo Memorial owes R55 million to 1573 suppliers

It is unacceptable that so many suppliers have not been paid and many of them have stopped services, including Buhle Waste, which is why smelly medical waste is building up at Gauteng hospitals.

Late payments are particularly harsh on small companies who sometimes go under because they run out of cash, and staff and patients suffer when services are cut.

The Department typically runs out of money towards the end of the financial year, so the R3.1 billion arrears will cut into the 2022/23 Health Budget of R59.4 billion which starts on 1 April and has not been increased from the previous year.

A financial bail-out will be necessary to clear the arrears, but this should be with strict conditions to fix the poor financial management that plagues this department which is mired in corruption scandals.

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Jack Bloom MPL

Democratic Alliance Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

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