In answer to a parliamentary question from the DA, the Minister for Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, revealed that the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital owed R178 410 428 in outstanding accruals, and that 26% of suppliers weren’t paid within the 30 days requirement.

The Minister also revealed the severe impact of Baragwanath’s underfunding on staff and the health care of patients. His reply stated that the hospital’s limited budget is unable to cover the extension and refurbishment of service areas according to its needs. This has a negative impact on everything from linen availability to kitchen operations and theatre outputs – Gauteng has a surgery backlog of 13 433 since July.

While Baragwanath is supposed to offer access to tertiary health care services, patients in need of those, like radiation therapy and cardiac surgery, are referred to the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital for treatment. There are also limited ICU beds.

Baragwanath is the biggest hospital in the country and third largest in the world, yet the staff shortages due to budget constraints continues to be an issue.

The DA will submit follow-up parliamentary questions to ascertain how pervasive these problems are in the rest of the province and the country.

If the Gauteng Department of Health cannot maintain and manage one hospital in one province, how does the ANC government envision the successful implementation of National Health Insurance (NHI).

If government truly believed in quality universal health care, hospitals would have been a priority. Every effort would have been made to ensure that hospitals were maintained and upgraded, that they were capacitated with capable and caring staff that were suitably remunerated for their expertise, and that all hospitals and clinics were exempt from loadshedding.

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Michele Clarke MP

Michele Clarke MP is the Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister of Health.

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