Hospitals need bigger budget

The budget crisis that has forced Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital to provide substandard care in its maternity unit is not confined to this hospital in Gauteng.

The budget crisis that has forced Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital to provide substandard care in its maternity unit is not confined to this hospital in Gauteng.

The Gauteng health department argues that budget cuts at Johannesburg Hospital and Bara have been offset by increases to the smaller hospitals that will treat more non-specialist cases. This is simply not true.

Coronation Hospital this year received a budget of R141million despite spending R164million last year. Its equipment budget was slashed from R3million to R1,6million. It has a 40percent nursing shortage More than 11000 babies are born every year at Coronation and senior doctors have warned of an unacceptable medical-legal risk because of staff and equipment shortages.

Another regional hospital under strain is Edenvale. It spent R94million last year, yet received only R87million this year.

Finance Minister Trevor Manuel runs a budget surplus and complains that certain budgets are not spent. This is not the case for Gautengs. It overspent about R400million last year.

There is a case for an additional budget to these hospitals that admit many patients from other provinces and from neighbouring countries. The department is remiss in not effectively pleaded its case to the national treasury.

Jack Bloom, DA health spokesman, Gauteng

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