Litigation brings Eastern Cape Health to the brink of collapse

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Eastern Cape Health has been brought to the brink of collapse, with the Auditor-General raising serious concerns over its financial sustainability in its recently tabled Annual Report for the 2017/18 financial year, says Jane Cowley, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) shadow MEC for Health.

Cowley says: “This stems from a staggering contingent liability of R24,326bn, which constitutes mostly of medico-legal claims (R24.193bn). This contingent liability has risen by a jaw dropping R7,575bn from the previous financial year’s R16,751bn, and is R1,990bn more than the department’s entire 2017/18 budget (R22,336bn).

“The AG also revealed irregular expenditure of R283m, of which R255,6m was incurred in the year under review.

“An audit on key performance indicators for district and provincial services, also showed the department had inflated reported successes, with several indicators having to be revised downwards.

“The AG found that the department did not keep adequate records and was therefore unable to obtain appropriate auditing evidence in some instances, while in others the supporting documentation contradicted the information in the report.

“Other findings of the AG include: poor expenditure management; corrupt contract management practices; significant deficiencies in internal control mechanisms; ineffective records management systems; an ineffective compliance monitoring process; and management’s poor response to recommendations made by the audit committee and internal audit unit.

“These findings are damning and need to be addressed urgently and aggressively if the Department of Health is ever to recover. Employees who fail to follow processes according to the law must be relieved of their duties. Managers who fail to implement recommendations by the audit committee must face the consequences. Officials who wittingly award infrastructure contracts to friends and family by using maiden surnames or clan names must be removed from the system.

“Until the political leadership in the province develops the will to clean house and rid itself of corrupt cadres, the citizens will continue to be on the receiving end of substandard services.”

Eastern Cape Health Department material

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