Only 34 patients have been admitted to the 1000-bed NASREC field hospital so far this month, but R380 a day is being paid for each empty bed.
Acting Gauteng Health MEC Jacob Mamabolo revealed this yesterday in an oral reply to my questions at a virtual sitting of the Gauteng Legislature.
According to Mamabolo, there is a fixed cost per bed of R380 a day, and R390 a day for each patient.
This means that about R380 000 a day is being paid for 1000 empty beds in terms of a 6 month contract with the Johannesburg Expo Centre. The contract expires on 31 Januarynext year so the last three months of the contract is likely to cost more than R32 million.
This is extremely wasteful and cannot be justified even if we had a second wave of COVID-19 infections as fewer than 10% of the NASREC beds were used at the peak of the epidemic in July.
It would be far better to contract with private hospitals to take public patients if state hospitals ever overflow with COVID-19 patients.
I have requested the Auditor-General to investigate the NASREC contract which I suspect contravenes good practice and is possibly corrupt.