More than R200 million in outstanding accruals at Chris Hani Baragwanath

Issued by Michele Clarke MP – DA Shadow Minister of Health
23 Apr 2024 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Michele Clarke MP

In response to a parliamentary question, the DA can reveal that Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital amassed R210 711 151 in medical accruals to 357 suppliers last year. Of these claims, more than half (53.4%) are outstanding beyond two months and more than a fifth (22.1%) beyond four months. This is shocking, considering that Baragwanath is the largest hospital in Africa and serves more than 1.5 million people in the greater Soweto area. As the National Health Insurance (NHI) looms, what should be a pinnacle of excellence has instead become a sad case of maladministration.

Vulnerable South Africans deserve better than a failing healthcare system, as outstanding accruals are a part of a broader string of failures at Baragwanath and the Gauteng Provincial Health Department:

  • Baragwanath was one of eleven hospitals in the province, where telephones were cut off due to arrears, resulting in staff needing to use their cellphones to tend to patients.
  • It owed almost R3 million in electricity bills, which saw its supply nearly cut off.
  • It has interrupted water supply, due to internal pipe leaks and provincial outages, which has seen the postponements and cancellations of procedures.

This will sadly only worsen, once NHI becomes law. NHI will centralise healthcare and put services in the hands of politicians, not doctors.

  • Its pooled fund will see suppliers paid even later, due to more bureaucracy and maladministration.
  • Less suppliers will, as a result, contract with the public healthcare system, increasing costs.
  • Medical legal claims will increase, as Gauteng has already paid nearly R2 billion in legal claims in 2020.
  • Overall quality of care will deteriorate, with patients having nowhere to turn.

If government really cares about universal healthcare, it will abandon NHI and focus rather on pragmatic solutions. These include:

  • Using the strengths of the private healthcare system to bolster public healthcare.
  • Working to lower private healthcare premiums and out of pocket costs.
  • Ensuring cheaper, more accessible prescription medicines.
  • Building the necessary infrastructure at healthcare facilities, including hiring, and training more personnel.
  • Removing politicisation from the healthcare system and ensuring healthcare is administered independently.
  • Establishing Parliamentary watchdogs to supervise our healthcare system and its provision of services.

A vote to oust the ANC-led government next month, will return public health to focusing on the people. We can have a healthcare system that not only works but is world-class. South Africans must choose to put their health first.