By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC:
The National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) owes the Gauteng Health Department R1.5 billion according to an audit by the National Treasury.
This information was revealed today by Acting Gauteng Health MEC Barbara Creecy in an oral reply to my questions at a sitting of the House.
This audit was done for the period 1 April 2008 to 30 September 2012.
The department owes the NHLS R800 million for more than 90 days, but has requested an expansion of the audit to include the period up to 31 March 2014, and will only pay when the overall payments issue is fully clarified.
According to MEC Creecy, many serious problems are currently being experienced concerning tests done by the NHLS, including the shortening of operational hours, slower turn-around time and quality issues.
I am very concerned at the dysfunction at the NHLS which is causing test delays that are particularly serious for HIV/Aids and Tuberculosis patients.
The audit findings so far are astounding. How did the NHLS get away with ripping off the department with such a huge amount for so long?
Once the full audit is done, the NHLS will probably owe the department more than R1 billion even after current bills are paid.
It is clear that the NHLS is in a crisis that needs strong corrective intervention by National Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.