Gauteng Dept Underspends R1.1bn As Covid Ravages Hospitals

"Another failure is R223 million fruitless and wasteful expenditure as a result of overcharging for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Gauteng Hospital: R2.6bn Contracts Expired 5yrs Ago - SurgeZirc SA
Jack Bloom DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC/Photo File: Screengrab

SurgeZirc SA reports that the Gauteng Health Department failed to spend R1.1 billion of its total budget of R58.8 billion for the 2020/2021 financial year which covers the period from 1 April last year to 31 March this year.

This was made known in a statement issued by Jack Bloom of the Democratic Alliance (DA) on Thursday.

According to the statement, SurgeZirc SA understands that details of the spending were disclosed in the 2020/2021 Annual Report of the Gauteng Health Department that was tabled recently in the Gauteng Legislature.

“This is a massive amount of money that should have been used to help hospitals that were overwhelmed by Covid-19 cases, causing lives to be lost that could have been saved with more staff and equipment.

“District Health Services had an underspend of R407, and Central Hospital Services failed to spend R359 million.

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“Despite crumbling hospitals and a dire need for more beds, the Health Facilities programme underspent R201 million,” the statement reads.

According to the Department, a major cause of the underspending was a delay in the filling of vacant posts, and infrastructure project commitments that were not paid at the year-end.

Meanwhile, there are 7000 vacancies in critical occupation posts, including a shortage of 2550 Professional Nurses and 1350 student nurses, 900 vacant posts for Emergency Care Practitioners, and 450 empty posts for doctors. Overall, about one in seven critical posts (14%) are vacant.

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“Another failure is R223 million fruitless and wasteful expenditure as a result of overcharging for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

“This shows that poor management continues to plague the Department despite many promises by Premier David Makhura that this would be rectified.

“Too many senior posts in this Department have acting personnel, including the Head of Department and Chief Financial Officer for more than a year. These posts need to be filled urgently with capable and honest people who will ensure that money is properly spent on care for sick people.

“Senior health official Babita Deokaran was murdered because she exposed corruption in this department. The time for empty promises is over – the deep rot must be eradicated once and for all!”.

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