Gauteng Health underspends by R2.7bn – Jack Bloom

DA MPL says most of the underspend was in the health infrastructure budget despite decrepit state of public hospitals

Gauteng Health underspends by R2.7 billion despite massive needs

5 June 2023

Despite massive needs, the Gauteng Health Department failed to spend a whopping R2.7 billion of its budget in the 2022/23 financial year which concluded on 31 March this year.

This bombshell information was disclosed last week on Friday at a meeting of the Gauteng Legislature’s Health Oversight Committee.

Most of the underspend was in the health infrastructure budget - R550 million was not spent despite the decrepit state of our public hospitals. It was stated that not a single Gauteng state hospital complies fully with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) - this poses a safety risk to thousands of staff and patients.

According to the Department, the low spending on infrastructure was “due to slow construction, progress of projects and contractors abandoning sites.”

The R1.6 billion underspend in District Health Services, which includes HIV/Aids treatment and procurement of hospital machinery, is blamed on “Delays in Supply Chain Management (SCM) processes e.g. probity audits, contract finalisation and tender processes under machinery and equipment and minor assets.”

The overall underspend would have been higher except that it was partly offset by over-expenditure in paying medical negligence claims and accruals from the previous year.

Although the department has applied for the money to be rolled over into the next financial year, it is likely more than R300 million will be returned to the Provincial Treasury.

It is disgraceful that year after year the department fails to spend its full budget, which is needed to provide quality care to patients. Last year they failed to spend R2.6 billion, and R1.1 billion the year before.

I agree with outgoing Health Ombud Professor Malegapuru Makgoba that this department lacks leadership, capacity and vision, and this is unlikely to change under the present ruling party.

Issued by Jack Bloom, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health, 5 June 2023