FS Health Crisis: AG Report shows Health Department still in ICU

By David van Vuuren, DA Chief Whip in the Free State Provincial Legislature:

The Free State Provincial Department of Health obtained its fourth consecutive qualified audit opinion with material findings for the 2014/15 financial year.

There has been little improvement in the department’s audit outcomes and financial health status despite Provincial Treasury’s intervention.

Irregular expenditure totals R328,760 million while an additional estimated amount of R379 million is still under investigation. This irregular expenditure was incurred as a result of direct contravention of supply chain management requirements. Fruitless and wasteful expenditure increased by R1,3 million from the previous financial year to R7,9 million. Unauthorised expenditure totals R11 million.

The department has been crippled by accruals, currently at R250 million, malpractice litigation claims and unpaid employee benefits at the year end. This leaves the department to borrow a significant portion of the budget allocation of the next financial year in order to honour these commitments.

Shockingly, the department owes employees more than R600 million in unpaid service bonuses, performance awards and other employee benefits. The non-payment of these benefits negatively impact on staff morale and productivity, since employees go unrewarded for their dedication and contribution towards improving people’s health in an understaffed and under-resourced work environment. It is small wonder that medical professionals employed by the department resign at the first opportunity to do so and that MEC Malakoane needs to recruit from Cuba.

The Auditor-General’s report emphasises the DA’s position that the ability of the department to deliver quality and effective healthcare services have been negatively impacted as a result of serious cash-flow problems caused by poor financial management and planning.

The DA reiterates that Health MEC Benny Malakoane is not the right man for the job and this annual report shows it.

Where the DA governs in the Western Cape, the Department of Health showed overall best quality in governance. The Western Cape Department of Health incurred not a single cent in unauthorised and in fruitless and wasteful expenditure respectively. The AG also revealed that the department recorded the lowest figure in irregular expenditure. The proper financial management and planning executed by the DA government translates directly into quality and efficient healthcare service delivery.