By Dr Isak Fritz MPL – Northern Cape Spokesperson of Health
Date: 01 November 2017
Type: Press Statement
Patients staying at the Hester Malan Hospital in Douglas have been living on nothing but bread and pap for the past three days due to the Northern Cape Health Department’s non-payment of the food service provider.
This comes just more than a week after the DA reported that patients at the Wege Hospital in Hopetown were forced to use candles and cellphones for light in the midst of load shedding, as the health department had not paid the supplier responsible for the provision of diesel for the hospital’s brand new back-up generator.
It is unacceptable that sick people, who need a well-balanced diet, are treated with such neglect due to escalating poor financial management by the provincial Health Department.
What is even more disturbing are allegations that the department has entered into a new contract with another service provider for food provision at Hester Malan Hospital. If it couldn’t pay the old service provider, it surely won’t be able to pay the new service provider. At the same time, it won’t be long before the Health Department defaults on its payments with the new service provider and then it will be liable for outstanding payments to both service providers.
The reality is that this department is bankrupt. It has mounting accruals worth hundreds of millions of rands and it is again projecting massive over-expenditure for the 2017/2018 financial year. It has a huge budgetary shortfall for salaries, it continues to be slapped with astronomical litigation costs and it can’t possibly scrape funds together to operationalize newly-built state of the art health facilities in the province. At the same time, it has entered into a dubious security contract worth millions of rands, highlighting the continued extent of corruption within this department.
The rot within the provincial Health Department has become so deep-routed that not even intervention by Treasury seems to be able to rescue it.
In fact, even the HOD of the Health Department indicated that if there is not some form of outside assistance soon, service delivery within this department stands the very real risk of coming to a standstill.
This is deeply concerning as thousands of people in the Northern Cape rely on government health care services. They are desperately standing in line for life saving surgery, dialysis, oncology services and even just routine treatment, but the department’s ability to deliver health services is quickly drying up.
The DA will write a letter to Health MEC, Lebogang Motlhaping, requesting the urgent payment of the affected service provider at Hester Malan Hospital. We will also request that he investigates the department’s entry into a new contract for food provision at the hospital.
We will further write a letter to Premier Sylvia Lucas, highlighting the dire state of financial affairs within the department.
A drastic intervention is required before the province’s most sick and vulnerable people must pay with their lives for the health department’s own inefficiencies.
The people of the Northern Cape deserve better than the current ANC government, which does not put them first. The people of Northeen Cape, especially the poor, deserve a new beginning under a responsive and caring DA-led government.
Dr Isak Fritz MPL
Northern Cape Spokesperson of Health
083 395 2737
Shelley De Witt
082 847 1387