The Portfolio Committee on Health conducted hearings with the eight provincial departments of health. The committee was briefed on the state of public hospital services. The hearings follow the tabling of the annual inspection report of the Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC) for the 2016/17 financial year.
The OHSC reported that 696 routine inspections were conducted, surpassing the 649 inspections undertaken during the 2015/16 financial year. All the inspections were unannounced. The OHSC highlighted concern over the state of some hospitals and clinics in the country. The office encouraged the health sector to work on improving conditions at poor-performing facilities and to maintain the ones that are doing well.
Committee Chairperson, MsLindelwaDunjwa, said it is important to note that the results do not paint an entire reflection of health establishments, however, the report highlights the serious challenges that the health sector is facing.
The provincial departments acknowledged the report of the OHSC and the challenges that they are facing in the hospitals and clinics. Responding to questions from the committee on how the departments plan to address the issues of non-compliance that have been identified by the OHSC.
In their response the provincial departments made a commitment to improve the challenges that have been reported by the OHSC.
The committee expressed concern about the amount of accruals incurred by provinces, as this has a negative impact on the delivery of quality health services. The committee said the trend of accruals is very concerning as this implies that departments start each financial year on a deficit.
Provincial departments are failing to pay outstanding accounts on time. The Gauteng Department of Health told the committee that at the start of the 2017/18 financial year, accruals amounted to R6.9 billion.
The committee is concerned about the amount of medico-legal claims provincial departments are facing. The committee is of the view that this hugely affects the current and future budgets of the departments.
Among the challenges the provinces highlighted, is the difficulty in attracting specialist doctors, particularly in rural provinces. Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Eastern and Northern Cape informed the committee how they are struggling to fill in specialist positions.
The committee expressed dissatisfaction over the huge amounts of reported irregular and wasteful expenditure. Coupled with budget underspending, the committee said this was unacceptable, since provincial departments are facing a huge demand for services.
On the outsourcing of support services such as laundry, catering, gardening and cleaning and security, the committee said provinces need to phase out outsourcing and begin to insource these services.
Source: Parliament of the republic OF South Africa