Another disastrous Gauteng health audit

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC

The Auditor-General has given another disastrous audit report on the Gauteng Health Department, identifying weaknesses that include poor record-keeping, non-adherence to procedures, large underspends and material losses

The report  was tabled recently in the Gauteng Legislature and covers the 2013/14 financial year ending on 31 March 2014. It gives a qualified audit opinion with several emphasis of matters.

Underspends include the following:

  • R332 million unspent on the hospital revitalisation grant and R36.5 million not spent on the health infrastructure grant
  • R319 million unspent on district health services and R538.5 million not spent on health facilities management

A total unspent amount of R1.7 billion was returned to the Treasury, which shows appalling mismanagement when hospitals are desperately in need of upgrading.

R225 million was written off in irrecoverable patient debt and impairments to the amount of R1.5 billion were incurred as a result of an increase in provision for doubtful debt relating to patient fees.

The A-G says that effective and appropriate steps were not taken to collect all money due, or to prevent irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

Contractual obligations and money owed by the department to the value of R922.5 million was not settled within the legally required 30 days.

Furthermore, goods and services above R500 000 were procured without inviting competitive bids, with unjustified deviations.

There is a total accumulated amount of R416.5 million for fruitless and wasteful expenditure, of which R155 million was incurred in the last year due to medico-legal payments arising from hospital negligence.

A total of R1.6 billion in unauthorised expenditure is still to be condoned by the Legislature.

The A-G’s latest report is frankly scary as it shows that the department is still largely failing in key areas.

There has been a long decline and not much evidence of a successful turnaround since the department’s last clean audit in 2006.

A supremely capable and honest head of department must be appointed as soon as possible following the unexplained departure of Dr Hugh Gosnell.