Govt is to blame for mess at Bara

Zinhle Mapumulo

Zinhle Mapumulo

The Gauteng department of health has been criticised for being responsible for the crisis at Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital.

This comes after an exposé by Sowetan on Tuesday highlighting Magdeline Mvimbi, 77, ordeal during surgery at the hospital. Mvimbi was cut open for a hip replacement operation and had to be stitched up again because the drill that was to be used malfunctioned. There was no other drill available.

Yesterday, Jack Bloom, DA leader in the Gauteng legislature, insisted that the department was to blame for the shambles.

"The department underspent by R144 million for the financial year 2007/8. There is no excuse to justify why they failed to purchase the drills," he said. "Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital was one of the hospitals that underspent."

Bloom said of the R150,4 million allocated for equipment at Baragwanath, Charlotte Maxeke, Johannesburg Academic, Pretoria Academic and George Mukhari hospitals, only R88,5 million was spent and about R62million was returned to the Treasury.

According to the provincial health department's 2007/8 annual report, Chris Hani-Baragwanath was allocated R36million towards capital assets, including equipment. About R21million was spent, resulting in underspending of R15,2million.

But Gauteng health acting CEO Johanna More disputed the figures. She admitted that there were funds returned but not from Chris Hani-Baragwanath.

Asked why such a large institution had only two drills, More said: "The hospital has four drills. The other two were sent for maintenance. The one that was to be used during Mvimbi's operation was checked prior to the procedure and it was functioning. It was unfortunate that when they had to use it, it malfunctioned."

A hospital insider told Sowetan yesterday: "A requisition for three new striker drills was sent to the department in June last year. The quote amounted to R708000. In August the hospital was informed that there were no funds available for equipment.

"Shortage of equipment is a daily dose at Baragwanath. Patients are often turned away because of this," the source said.

The Gauteng department of health is no stranger to criticism of its poor financial planning.

Last October it was criticised by the auditor-general after the financial report revealed that it had underspent on equipment and ambulances.