Telephone bills and furniture were prioritised over hospital equipment at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, the national and provincial health departments said yesterday.
In a joint statement, the departments cited "deficiencies on the management side" as the reason the hospital did not have the required equipment.
"The management of the hospital has failed to prioritise the core-functions of the hospital in the allocation of about R1,1billion annual budget allocated to the hospital," the statement said.
This emerged after the health departments appointed a task team to investigate the conditions at the hospital's neo-natal and maternity sections.
The investigation was initiated in response to a report in The Star newspaper, carrying pictures of three newborn babies lying in a cardboard box.
The report said the hospital had its equipment budget cut by more than half this year in order for the province to buy "big-ticket" equipment for other Gauteng hospitals. This meant expenditure at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital was put on hold until next year or longer.
"... the [task] team established that the hospital was spending more than R9,4million on telephone accounts per year while only R7 million was allocated for the procurement of all medical equipment." - Sapa