Health Department cries foul over R750000 claim

Vuyolwethu Sangotsha

The Eastern Cape Health Department has accused certain companies providing air ambulance services of overcharging them.

Provincial department spokes-man Sizwe Kupelo referred to at least one case in which East London Air Services submitted a claim for R752 814 while, according to him, the department owes just R342 000.

"An amount of about R400000 could not be substantiated and therefore we are of the view that the department does not owe this amount to East London Air Services," he said.

"We stand by that, even if it means going to sort it out in a court of law," said Kupelo.

He said that in October and November last year, air services were secured from East London Air Services which cost the department R49600 and R49590 respectively.

Kupelo said his department adhered to normal procurement and payment procedures as stipulated in the Public Finance Management Act.

If non-contractual services were rendered, he said, the department would not be liable.

"The department wishes to make it clear that all services rendered outside the contract are considered illegal and unauthorised."

Kupelo also said they are now investigating possible overcharging by one of their service providers.

However, the director of East London Air Ambulance Services, Richard Quinn, denied that his company had claimed money to which they were not entitled.

He confirmed that his company had sued the department for money it owed for undertaking evacuation air services.

Quinn also said that the Bhisho high court had on three separate occasions ordered the department to pay legal costs estimated at R850000 and an outstanding balance of R450 000.

The Department of Health, however, is adamant that it would examine other legal avenues before settling.