Why are there still private wards at Joburg Hospital?


The private Folateng wards at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital (CMJH) are still open despite pledges that they would be closed three years ago.

I discovered this yesterday when I visited the Folateng section at the hospital.


These wards were opened at the hospital in May 2002 and there are currently 137 beds for most specialist services.


Folateng beds were also opened at the Pretoria West, Sebokeng and Helen Joseph Hospitals, but they were closed in 2014 after National Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi insisted that all beds in public hospitals be used for public patients only.


The Folateng wards were supposed to make money from private patients that would subsidize public patients, but they lost large amounts of money because of poor administration.


Two years ago, former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu disclosed in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature that R138 million in patient fees was owed to Folateng, mostly from private medical aids.


In reply to why it had taken so long to close all the wards she said that “notice had to be given for the termination of private contracts” and that “the units were integrated into the main hospital.”


The Folateng fiasco was an expensive mistake – my estimate is that they lost more than R500 million in total since inception, including the cost of expensive building alterations.


I will be asking questions in the Legislature about the justification for the continued operation of this unit.


I am disturbed that the Folateng wards still operate at CMJH as I don’t believe they make a real profit and the upgraded facilities should rather be used for public patients.


All public resources should be used effectively to provide quality care for public patients, not running a loss-making unit for private patients who can afford private hospitals.

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