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Gauteng health minister: R5bn needed for turnaround

Resource type: News

Mail & Guardian |

Gauteng needs at least R5-billion to turn around its health system, a local government minister said on Wednesday.

Gauteng health minister Brian Hlongwa said many people did not realise the “scale and scope of the challenges” the department faced.

“If you ask me a ballpark figure … at R5-billion we can begin to turn around the health system,” he told reporters in Johannesburg.

He said he had agreed with Health Minister Barbara Hogan that Gauteng would request more funds from the national treasury.

“We have agreed … to confront the national treasury. But you need to put a business plan to them. You need to convince them, if you put more money in health, then you are going to grow the economy,” he said.

Hlongwa denied reports in the Sowetan newspaper last month that the health department had failed to spend R144-million of its budget.

“R178-million — including the R144-million — have been spent,” said Hlongwa.

He said it had taken longer to spend the money because there was a delay in the delivery of equipment.

“How do we avoid this in future? We should start placing orders now for things in the next financial year. We need to improve, indeed, our planning.”

He also reacted to a newspaper report of an unfinished hip-replacement operation on a 77-year-old woman at Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital.

The Sowetan reported on Wednesday that the woman had to be stitched up again because a drill used to cut the hip bone malfunctioned during the procedure.

“In the middle of this operation, the drill malfunctioned. The surgeon had to take a decision,” said Hlongwa, adding that the doctor had no choice but to stitch the woman up again.

But he complained that newspapers never wrote about the many success stories at Chris Baragwanath hospital.

“There are a lot of amazing things happening at Baragwanath … It is not true that Baragwanath is the worst. What is true, is that Baragwanath is under tremendous pressure.”

This was the case with many state hospitals in Gauteng, he added.

“Gauteng is the most populous province. People end up in this province in search of a better little … our facilities are under tremendous pressure.”

At least two state hospitals in the province were older than 100 years, he said.

“It means that your infrastructure begins to collapse.”

On reports of faulty lifts at state hospitals, he said a tender to repair the lifts had been issued.

“We’ve been given a schedule on when they are rolling out. We’ve been promised that by the end of this year, they should have completed the roll-out.

“We hope that the worst is over.”

‘Free State healthcare in no crisis’

Meanwhile Free State Premier Beatrice Marshoff has denied assertions that the province’s healthcare system is in tatters.

“There is going to be a lot of noise about healthcare in the province,” she said in her state-of-the-province address in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.

“I can assure people the healthcare system is not on its knees.”

Marshoff later told reporters no one was lying about the health situation in the Free State.

She did, however, confirm the province was experiencing severe financial constraints in the health department but said this was no “fault of our own”.

Marshoff said budget constraints in the health department should not be seen as government cutting back on services.

“We would not cut back on the very basic primary healthcare provided by government. We are still very committed to that.” — Sapa

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