The Gauteng Health Department has estimated that it will cost about R1.1 billion to fix the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital (CMJH) after the fire on 16 April this year, and is requesting the Solidarity Fund to assist.
This was disclosed last week at a meeting of the Gauteng Legislature Health Committee.
No date has yet been given, however, for the hospital to be fully repaired even if the money is obtained for the necessary building work.
I doubt whether R1.1 billion can be obtained from the Solidarity Fund which was set up at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic last year. The Department itself is expecting no more than R200 million.
About R100 million is being taken from the normal maintenance budget in this financial year to meet the safety requirements to open the structurally sound parts of the hospital.
Two of the 5 blocks in the hospital have extensive damage that will need additional funds.
Extra funding should be sought from the national treasury as there is no provision in this year’s provincial budget to do the job.
The DA has proposed a private/public partnership with a tight deadline to ensure that the hospital is fully re-opened as soon as possible. This is because the Department of Infrastructure Development has proven incapable of doing any project on time and within budget.
This hospital was originally designed for 2000 beds, but fewer than 1100 beds were operational at the time of the fire.
Funding from the private sector should be explored to expand the bed capacity of the hospital so that a section can be leased to a private hospital group to provide extra income for public patients.
This was the original intention of the Folateng wards which were supposed to generate income by taking private patients. It failed dismally because the Gauteng Health Department tried to run it instead of contracting it to a private provider.
We need a creative solution to get CMJH up and running as thousands of patients are suffering with every delay due to avoidable incompetence.
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