Scopa wants R2.2bn back

GAUTENG's ailing health department is owed R2.2-billion in patient fees but senior officials are reluctant to recoup the money.

It was left to the standing committee on public accounts yesterday to demand that officials - led by MEC Hope Papo and chief financial officer Ndoda Biyela - get the department's money back.

Committee chairman Sipho Makama instructed Biyela and his colleagues to first attempt to recover the money before resolving to write off the debt.

The officials had tried to argue the unlikelihood of recovering the debt because it was more than 90 days overdue, but Makama dismissed the department's excuse, arguing that the Treasury should be called in to assist in recouping the money.

Makama also pointed out that there remained a slim chance of recovering the debt because the entities that owed the department were still in existence.

According to the department's own documents a large chunk of the debt is owed by the Road Accident Fund to the tune of just more than R1-billion.

The second biggest debtors are self-paying patients, who owe R511-million. This debt of about R2.2-billion is listed by the department as being more than 120 days overdue.

In terms of the hospitals affected, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic hospital is owed R542.5-million for services rendered but not paid for.

Dr George Mukhari Hospital is owed about R533-million, while Chris Hani-Baragwanath and Steve Biko Academic hospitals have yet to receive about R370-million and R265-million owed to them, respectively.

Despite these debts, Papo said, the department had paid R4.2-billion in accruals by January this year. - molatlhwao@sowetan.co.za

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