Gauteng medical suppliers still in dire straits
The survival of some smaller and medium-sized companies is now in jeopardy
Some providers of medical devices in Gauteng have seen some payments from the provincial department of health in the last weeks, yet the outstanding total has increased from R364.5 million in early December to R403.8 million by middle-January.
The South African Medical Devices Industry Association (SAMED) said in a statement that it wants to work with the relevant departments and "does not lightly air its grievances publicly".
"While there has been movement, there has not been progress. In fact, the situation has deteriorated."
Some suppliers have notified the Gauteng Department of Health (GDH) that they will put orders for medical products and services on hold, which will affect health services in Gauteng public hospitals, says Tanya Vogt, chief operating officer of SAMED.
“We’re issuing this statement because there may be confusion in the public’s mind as media reports earlier indicated that substantial payments have been made by GDH. That may be true, but those payments did not go to suppliers of medical devices but to institutions like the blood service,” Vogt explained.
There is only a trickle of payments to SAMED members, but there also does not seem to be a consistent and logical pattern to the payments made.
One supplier who is owed R26 million received R4 million.
The result is continuing uncertainty and the survival of some smaller and medium-sized companies is now in jeopardy.
A further concern is that while formal letters to Treasury and the national Department of Health have been acknowledged, nothing further has happened.
“To whom do we turn now?” asks Vogt.
To improve the working relationship, SAMED is meeting with GDH on 24 January on stock control and procurement processes for urgently required devices. SAMED believes it has expertise in the management, maintenance and utilisation of equipment, and wants to share it with GDH so as to assist in the better use of resources.
“There are good and committed people in these departments but the lack of planning, adequate forecasting and appropriate budgeting makes it difficult to operate at maximum efficiency.
“As we begin movement toward national health insurance, we agree with the Minister Motsoaledi that existing systemic problems and management competency must be addressed”, says Vogt.