Gauteng Health Audit Committee warned about unsafe buildings and hygiene risks

by Jack Bloom MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC

This is a summary extract of a speech delivered today by Jack Bloom MPL in Debate on the Gauteng Health Department Annual Report

The 2017/18 Gauteng Health Department Annual Report shows dismal failure, with only 64 (43%) out of 147 targets achieved.

The Auditor-General says that effective and appropriate steps were not taken to prevent irregular expenditure of R1.7 billion and fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R38 million.

Most of the irregular expenditure was because goods and services were provided without following competitive bidding processes, and the cause of the fruitless and wasteful expenditure was interest levied on overdue accounts.

But no disciplinary steps were taken against officials who incurred or permitted irregular expenditure.

Year after year we hear that the department is going to be turned around, but we still don’t have a clean audit report.

According to the Audit Committee: “the overall control environment of the Department has regressed during the year under review.”

In their report dated 31 July 2018, they say that “compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act is still a significant problem as most institutions did not have dedicated Occupational Health Officers.”

And furthermore “facilities are at risk of non-compliance with the National Building Regulations and there is a direct impact on the spread of disease especially in isolation wards and theatres.”

And still more: “The Audit Committee reports its dissatisfaction with minimal progress made with the implementation of the Disaster Recovery Plan and the Business Continuity Plan. This continued to be a high risk for the Department.”

Tragically, their warnings were not followed as disaster did strike with the fire at the Bank of Lisbon building which led to the deaths of three firefighters.

We have also seen the deaths of 6 babies from antibiotic-resistant Klebsiella at the Thelle Mogoerane Hospital and 9 babies died at Rahima Moosa Hospital from Necrotising Enterocolitis (NEC).

I hope that occupational safety and hygiene risks are tackled effectively at our hospitals and clinics to avoid more disasters.

All in all, 22 key strategic risks are identified, including:

  • inadequate access to quality health services for mental health patients
  • increase in maternal, new born, infant and child morbidity/mortality
  • high death rate due to increase in the number of HIV and TB infections
  • financial losses due to litigation
  • fraud and corruption
  • aging infrastructure and health technology
  • shortages in pharmaceutical supplies
  • inadequate Human Capital Management
  • Serious Adverse Events
  • financial losses due to litigation

The good news is that the Audit Committee is doing excellent work in identifying risks and areas for improvement.

The bad news is that there is little progress in fixing the deficiencies.