Dire situation as health labs shut

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Health Spokesman

A dire situation faces patients at state hospitals as the National Health Laboratory Services stops services in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal because the provincial health departments have not paid their bills.

Last week, NHLS CEO Sagie Pillay informed staff in a letter (available on request) that services in these two provinces would be suspended as of Thursday 20 March 2014.

According to Pillay: “Suspensions of specimen collection services will begin with primary health care clinics and will progress to community health centre and specialised hospitals. This will be followed by suspension of diagnostic pathology services at laboratories supporting district hospitals, followed by regional hospitals, then provincial tertiary hospitals and finally national central hospitals.”

According to Gauteng Health MEC Hope Papo in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature, the NHLS is owed R6.6 million.

It is utterly appalling that essential laboratory services including blood tests will be stopped because of non-payment.

Payment should be made urgently otherwise there will be a crisis in health care that affects thousands of patients.