Provincial Treasury must recoup debt owed to NHLS from NC Health Dept.

By Harold McGluwa MPL DA Northern Cape Provincial Spokesperson of Health:

Failure by the Northern Cape Department of Health to pay outstanding monies owed to the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) has prompted the DA to today write to the MEC of Provincial Treasury, John Block, requesting that the debt owed is urgently paid by the department.

This comes after a reply to a parliamentary question by the Northern Cape Health Department has revealed that as at 31 July 2015, the department still owed R23,5 million to the NHLS.

In March this year, it was revealed in Parliament that provincial governments owed the NHLS R4,5 billion in total. According to the Northern Cape health department, they owed the NHLS R32,5 million as at 31 March 2015.

This is very disturbing. The NHLS is tasked with ensuring the provision of laboratory services to all provinces, including the Northern Cape. Failure by the Northern Cape and other provinces to settle their debt with the NHLS could seriously compromise the institution’s ability to provide diagnostic services, with life and death consequences, and hampering the investigation of crime.

While the DA has, on a national level, requested National Treasury to present a recovery plan to ensure payment of debt owed by respective provinces to the NHLS before the end of the 2014/2015 financial year, and subsequently also requested a meeting with the National Minister of Health to discuss this, it appears that our attempts to assist the NHLS have fallen on deaf ears.

It’s high time the Northern Cape Department of Health gets its finances in order and pays what it owes. It is, however, clear the Department is not able to properly manage their finances on their own. It is for this reason that we are asking Provincial Treasury to oversee that the debt owed to the NHLS is paid.

Provincial Treasury can ensure that, by paying this debt, the Laboratory Services are kept in business to ensure that crimes are solved, medical cases are treated properly and the Province is a safe and healthy place.