The threshold for hospital purchases raised to R1 million despite widespread abuse

Despite widespread abuses, the Gauteng Treasury has raised the limit for hospital purchases that can be signed off by the hospital CEO without going to tender from R500 000 to R1 million.

This was disclosed today by Gauteng Health MEC Nomantu Nkomo Ralehoko in an oral reply to my questions at a sitting of the Gauteng Legislature.

Split-billing is dividing a contract so that it is just below the R500 000 (now R1 million) limit to avoid going out to competitive tender.

The MEC said that 14 cases of split billing had been picked up at Tembisa Hospital since January last year and no more cases were picked up at any other hospital since September last year.

According to the MEC, the Gauteng Treasury raised the limit to reduce turnaround time and account for increased costs.

I am astonished that the threshold has been doubled to R1 million as hundreds of cases have been exposed by the SIU and the media of fishy companies supplying goods just below the R500 000 limit.

How can the MEC claim that only 14 cases of split billing were detected from January last year?

It seems the Gauteng Health Department has grossly inadequate monitoring of hospital purchases and ignores all the cases exposed by the media.

The problem of split billing occurs at other hospitals as well, as revealed by official replies to my questions in the Legislature.

Abuses are likely to increase now that the threshold has been raised to R1 million. This only makes sense where there are adequate controls and honest and capable hospital CEOs, which is not the case as revealed by the recent Health Ombud’s report on the Rahima Moosa Hospital.

The Department relies on the SIU to investigate cases but needs to do far more to stop massive hospital misspending, which the SIU estimated at R1 billion over three years at the Tembisa hospital and is rife at other hospitals as well.