The Butterworth Hospital has blown its annual goods and services budget in less than six months and is now facing the real possibility of not being able to feed patients under the hospital’s care. This is according to Jane Cowley, the Democratic Alliance's (DA's) shadow minister for health in the Eastern Cape.
Cowley says: “Following a recent oversight inspection to the facility, it was revealed that the hospital has blown through 96% of their budget of R19.6m, with just R781,000 left as of the middle of August. Service providers, including security personnel, have not been paid since July. Even more damning is that the suppliers of critical gasses, including oxygen, have not been paid since June.
“The CEO of the hospital said that the provincial head office was aware of the situation and said the hospital would be applying for top-up funding and was relying on the provincial head office to oblige.
“No clarity was provided on why this precarious financial situation was allowed to degenerate to this precarious state in the first place.
“The hospital has a chief financial officer and a CEO, both of whom earn very good salaries in order to execute decisions and practise fiscal discipline, so the hospital can function effectively from the beginning to the end of every financial year. This has clearly not happened.
“The Eastern Cape Health Department, upon seeing spending patterns of the hospital at the end of the first quarter, should immediately have taken steps to mitigate the situation and institute some form of financial control.
“Butterworth Hospital already has a reputation for being one of the most highly litigated facilities in the province. There is no doubt that the service to the public will continue to decline if they do not have the money to pay for goods and services, which will no doubt exacerbate the already dire situation.
“The Health Department needs to clean house. This should include ridding itself of employees who are costing the state a fortune but who are incompetent. Senior managers who allow an institution to teeter on the brink of total financial collapse should be fired.
“I have set questions to the MEC for Health to establish the financial status of other hospitals in the province. The Democratic Alliance will continue to fight for effective and satisfactory health care services for all the people of the Eastern Cape, and institutions that have competent managers and practise financial discipline.”