Officials at the Gauteng Health Head Office barred me yesterday from doing an oversight visit in order to see how employees were coping without the furniture removed last week by the Sheriff of the court in order to force payment of a R6.2 million medical negligence payment.
I arrived at the Bank of Lisbon building in central Johannesburg and was kept waiting in the foyer for 40 minutes after requesting to be admitted to the department’s offices which are on the 11th to 23rd floors.
Two senior officials eventually came down and informed me that I could not enter unless I had an appointment with someone inside.
I am used to being barred from hospitals, but what do they think they are hiding at the head office? Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa claims that operations have not been affected by the lack of furniture and equipment but I suspect the situation is even worse than we think.
According to Charles Phasa, a department employee and branch secretary of the National Health, Education and Allied Workers Union, the working conditions are “very bad” as everything with any value was taken.
He says that “every year the sheriff comes in and the department waits until the 11th hour to negotiate some sort of way to cover their payments, but this time around it is just too much.”
Some staff have been moved to the Tshwane district office which is very inconvenient for them.
Meanwhile, the department has not negotiated with O Joubert Attorneys who are owed a number of payments for medical negligence.
Ramokgopa needs to tell us what her department is doing to pay all that it owes, including medical suppliers, rather than pretend that things can continue as they are without a hard day of reckoning when the budget runs out later this year.