Health department settles debts and introduces sweeping changes

Dept is in the process of paying out more than R1,5 billion owed to service providers. The debts are from previous years up to March 2011

SERVICE providers of Gauteng hospitals have not abandoned their part of the bargain and have continued to supply services, despite the department of health owing them millions.

This was confirmed by department of health spokesman Simon Zwane yesterday.

He said despite the hardship faced by service providers they had upheld their end of agreements that are in place.

He also said the department was in the process of paying out more than R1,5 billion owed to service providers.

They were settling debts from previous years up to March 2011.

Debts acquired from April 2011 will be settled from this month until June, he maintained.

"The department is focusing on all debts owed until March 2011," Zwane said

"Service providers waiting for money include security companies, NGOs, municipalities, medical waste removal companies and suppliers of coal and fuel."

The department urged the public not to panic as services were being rendered at health institutions across Gauteng.

"Some people claim using a paid invoice. We verify every claim to avoid fraud," Zwane warned

So far nine doctors are facing hearings linked to charging for an excessive number of overtime hours.

Zwane said doctors based at Sebokeng, Natalspruit and Pholosong had claimed working more than 18 hours a day.

To avoid more fraudulent claims, the Gauteng department of health and the National Health Laboratory Services have begun to implement electronic clocking-in facilities at 20 hospitals.

Another gate-keeping system seeks to systemise blood tests. The system was piloted at Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital, where it reduced laboratory test costs significantly, he said.

The department has also improved control on the distribution of medicine.

A provincial pharmaceutical and therapeutic committee regulating the use of medicines has been established.

The committee will also oversee protocols, assist with the availability of essential drugs and related matters.

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