Tuesday, 25 June, 2024
HomeNews UpdateGauteng drops costly Ashanti COVID hospital deal

Gauteng drops costly Ashanti COVID hospital deal

The Gauteng Government has resolved to abandon the hugely expensive white elephant AngloGold Ashanti Hospital, formerly identified and refurbished as a COVID-19 critical care hospital, despite splurging nearly R600m on the upgrading of the facility, Premier Panyaza Lesufi has said.

“The provincial government has resolved to walk away from the stinking deal,” he told IOL. “This is another painful chapter, I must be honest.”

He added that during the pandemic, the Gauteng Government, through the Department of Health, had asked that a hospital be established to deal with the challenges of COVID.

“Through a mine called Ashanti, a hospital was identified, which needed R50m to be upgraded to be at the level where it could be utilised.

“The sad news is that from R50m, it sky-rocketed to R588m. As I am speaking to you now, the hospital cannot be utilised. The Health Department feels it it is not conducive to be utilised, and all government departments feel they can’t use the hospital because it is not safe. The zama zamas (illegal miners) have taken it over.”

The Premier said the facility remains unsafe, and patients cannot be taken to the controversial hospital.

“We rehabilitated it at a cost of R588m, but we do not own that hospital because the mine is refusing to hand over the property. We still need to pay for water and lights, and I am told that averages R2m or so every month,” he said.

“The former lease agreement has expired, and a new one can’t be signed. We have taken a conscious decision to cut our costs and let go of this investment.”

Lesufi said his government was leaving it to the Hawks and the SIU to recoup the money.

“All of the people responsible for taking the refurbishment cost of this hospital from R50m to R588m must be identified, tracked down, assets frozen, and money returned to government.”

Lesufi said six officials had been identified for the deal. Three are from the provincial Department of Health and the other three are from the provincial Department of Infrastructure.

The Gauteng hospital became a white elephant six months after its completion, with only a handful of patients having been treated at the facility, which is in a remote area on the West Rand.

MedicalBrief reported earlier this year (20 March) that the 20 staff employed there had left because there were no patients, according to Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi, who at the time confirmed that only 147 patients had been treated since its opening. When the hospital opened with much fanfare in May 2021, just before the peak of the third wave of infections, it had only 80 of the 181 beds that had been planned, the Sunday Times had reported.

Dr Grant Lindsay, medical consultant for a large opencast mining company in Gauteng, had said the hospital was just too far from Johannesburg to ease the burden on facilities taking up slack after a fire closed Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

“If all of the medical facilities in Johannesburg were used properly, there wouldn’t be such a load on the tertiary hospitals,” he said.

“We’ve seen how many of these built EMS facilities (for COVID) stand empty and we’ve seen how many built EMS facilities are mostly incomplete. Every one a massive overspend.

“We put up our own field hospital with nine ICU beds with oxygen: it cost R220 000, so you can see how much of an overspend Ashanti was. You could build a decent clinic for R5m. For example, we bought our oxygen concentrators for R7 000 each. The government was paying R65 000 for each of theirs.”

 

IOL article – R588m down the drain! Gauteng govt walking away from Covid hospital despite huge investment (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

AngloGold Ashanti field hospital: R499m upgrade to treat 147 patients

 

DA: R700m Anglo Ashanti hospital will become ghost hospital

 

DA: Freeze expenditure and recover R500m unlawfully spent on Anglo Ashanti Hospital

 

Gauteng’s ‘new’ R1.2bn COVID ICU hospitals lie abandoned and unfinished

 

 

 

 

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