The Gauteng health department owes R3.7 billion to 1 576 suppliers who have not been paid for more than 90 days.
According to DA shadow minister of health Jack Bloom, “this distressing information was revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in an oral reply to my questions yesterday at a sitting of the Gauteng Legislature”.
Ramokgopa is also said to have revealed that “service delivery and patient care will be affected” as a consequence of companies stopping goods or services because of nonpayment.
E-Goli Gas, which provides gas services to healthcare facilities, has already stopped its services, but “this was resolved speedily”.
Suppliers who have not been paid and are considering cutting services to the department include Gugu and Daughters Farming, a supplier of fruit and vegetables; Techno Medi, medical healthcare suppliers; Government Printing Works, a state-owned printing and publishing entity; Barford Jones, Orthomed, Orthotic and Prosthetic supply company; and Ditaro, suppliers of radiographic material.
Dr Temp, exclusive distributor of Traxit and NexTemp disposable clinical thermometers in sub-Saharan Africa, is expecting payment owed to it, as well as Supra Healthcare, a medical supplies company, as well as Sidas Security Services, a private security company.
“The department is making slow progress in bringing down its accruals, which were R4.7 billion at the start of the financial year on 1 April, and is now R1 billion less, but still an enormous amount which is nearly 10% of the department’s R40 billion budget,” said Bloom.
Bloom has also claimed that yesterday he witnessed the sheriff of the court taking out furniture from the department’s head office in central Johannesburg because of a nonpayment issue.
He believes that would remain a regular occurrence, “as desperate companies or law firms have to resort to the court to force payments, including those for medical negligence”.
There are unconfirmed reports that National Treasury has turned down the department’s appeal for more funds. Bloom stated that the “only hope is that finance MEC Barbara Creecy allocates more funds to health in the adjustment budget due to be tabled tomorrow”.
“I fear that patients’ lives will be put at risk in another Esidimeni, as unpaid companies stop goods and services to hospitals,” Bloom cautioned.
Gauteng government spokesperson Thabo Masebe has previously informed The Citizen that there is a special executive committee task team chaired by Creecy responsible for stabilising financial management in the department. Masebe was unable to refute claims made by the DA that the department would run out funds by December, three months before the end of the financial year.