R77 million loss by Gauteng private wards

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow Health Spokesman

The Folateng private wards in Gauteng Hospitals have lost R77.3 million in the last three years, and have yet to be scrapped despite instructions by National Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

This is revealed by Acting Health MEC Barbara Creecy in reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

These private wards have been running for more than 10 years at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg, Helen Joseph and Sebokeng hospitals. They were meant to generate a profit in order to subsidise public patients, but my estimate is that they have lost more than R500 billion in total over the years, including capital expenditure.

According to the reply, R198 million was spent on the Folateng wards at Charlotte Maxeke between 2011 and 2013, but only R149.5 million revenue was collected, making a loss of R48.5 million.

R10.4 million was spent on Folateng at Helen Joseph during this period, with a loss of R1.1 million and at Sebokeng R34.8 million was spent with revenue of only R7.1 million, leading to a R27.7 million loss.

The bed occupancy is sometimes as low as 20% at the Folateng wards in Sebokeng Hospital. At Helen Joseph Hospital, 38% of Folateng beds are occupied, and the average for Charlotte Maxeke is 73 percent.

Earlier this year, doctors at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital wrote to Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi requesting that empty Folateng beds be made available for public patients as some severely ill patients had to be sent away from public wards.

Motsoaledi expressed his outrage at the continued operation of the Folateng wards and said that they should be closed.

According to Creecy: “Integration of these wards has commenced since the instructions were issued by the National Department of Health.”

This is very vague. I will be monitoring progress in the closure of these wards which were a failed experiment that should have been canned earlier as they lose money instead of making money from private patients.