How Gauteng health dept blew R500m

06 November 2017 - 13:23 By Penwell Dlamini
Gauteng health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa. File photo.
Gauteng health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/Foto24/Lisa Hnatowicz

Gauteng health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa has revealed that her predecessors spent R500-million on a data storage facility that the department did not need.

In her third visit to the Thelle Mogoerane Hospital in Vosloorus‚ Ramokgopa detailed the state of her department’s finances.

Ramokgopa said she had already identified areas where the department had been reckless in its spending.

“For example‚ the department procured V-Block‚ which is a data storage facility which is very big and can accommodate the whole of Gauteng government and maybe one or two other provinces‚” she said last week.

“The estimated cost is almost half a billion rand. This [happened] while the department has also a facility to use the storage of the e-governance department.

“The department had a facility available that they could have used but still went on to procure this unnecessary facility. We are looking at the contractual agreements that were there. Should it be necessary‚ we will approach the court to review this contract. That money is for patient care.”

She said the department faced two financial risks.

“The first one was a huge accrual status. The debt that we owed for services provided and medical litigation. In terms of accruals‚ I can indicate that R10.6-billion has been paid to 5‚712 suppliers‚” Ramokgopa said.

“We have been hard at work to ensure that the department owes no one. In April‚ payment within 30 days of receiving invoice stood at 12% and that has improved to 50%. There is R2.9-billion worth of invoices processed and are awaiting payment.”

Thelle Mogoerane Hospital has made headlines in recent weeks after security guards downed tools to protest against unpaid salaries. Hospital staff‚ fearing for their safety‚ took up the cause of the security guards and chased away management out of frustration. The situation was later resolved when Sidas Security Services was paid and a new company hired to guard the hospital.

Ramokgopa said her department wanted to make sure that its R40-billion budget is used to provide health to the public. The department spends more than 60% of its budget on human capital.

She said there were also cases where the department wasted money by buying basic goods via a tender process‚ rather than sourcing them from a store.

Inventory management was getting attention‚ she said.

“Our inventory last year was in excess of R1-billion. While we want to make sure that there is always stock available‚ we need to carefully manage that stock. The department now has a stock sharing system where one health facility can share its surplus with another‚” she said.

Litigation against the department has prompted the executive in the province to act.

“We have established a special provincial committee which follows up every case of serious adverse events. We have also established an independent panel of experts‚ which is co-chaired by a professor and a retired judge‚ so that we work towards zero medical accidents … patient care must be optimised‚” she said.