A total of R55,7–billion rand has been allocated for the Gauteng Department of Health’s budget for this financial year, MEC of Health Dr Bandile Masuku announced on Friday.
Masuku was speaking at the provincial budget vote at the legislature.
A balancing act
With the arrival of Covid-19 in the country, other healthcare services were put on hold so that resources were available to fight the pandemic. This has left many chronic patients struggling to access their medication.
Masuku admits that the province did not factor in this a possibility.
“I would accept and concede that it was an oversight when we didn’t do good planning, in terms of people on chronic medication or treatment,” Masuku tells Health-e News in an interview.
But he says that the province has negated this challenge and can forge a balance.
“It’s going to be easy for us now to create a balance between the services that we have to continue with the issue of mental health patients, the issue of the backlog surgery, the issue of HIV and TB patients. We are focusing on in terms of creating the balances make sure that we downfall far behind our targets.”
Masuku tabled R1.1–billion for maintenance and refurbishment of hospitals that fall under the Priority Hospitals Project.
“At the end of this financial year we will open seven new facilities in the province, namely; Mandisa Shiceka Day Clinic (Hammanskraal), Boikhutsong Clinic (Soshanguve), Phillip Moyo CHC (Daveyton-Ethwathwa), Khutsong South (Khutsong), Pinetown Clinic (Ennerdale), Greens Park Clinic (West Rand) and Kekana Stad (Kekana Gardens).
“In three weeks’ time we will have an opportunity to open a state-of-the-art neonatal unit at Mamelodi Hospital which will be critical in our fight to reduce neonatal mortality,” Masuku announced.
Masuku says that the number of community health centres that are providing 24-hour services have increased from 30 to 32, with the addition of Zola clinic and Ebony Park clinic.
Increasing the province’s capacity doesn’t on stop with new and refurbished infrastructure, and includes securing more emergency medical service vehicles such as intermediate life support ambulances, multi-purpose ambulances and planned patient transport vehicles. R294–million will be used to procure these vehicles.
The MEC says that R103–million has been allocated for 500 additional beds at both Clinix Health Group and Life Health Care for mental healthcare patients. The Department has created 476 district mental health teams’ posts and are in the process of filling them.
There are five Mental Health Review Boards across the districts which report directly to the Office of the MEC. Masuku adds that Gauteng is the only province that has been able to achieve this.
Meeting the needs of healthcare workers
Various healthcare worker unions have asked that the government give workers remuneration for risking their lives during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Speaking to Health-e News, Masuku says that he hears the cries of workers and will personally fight for some sort of reward, like a tax relief or bonuses, for frontline healthcare workers. He says that talks of danger pay are still on the table.
“Rewards are made after the war, and those words are not made during the war but are made after we’ve had a good outcome of the war. I don’t think it’s just about the outcomes, it’s about the effort, sacrifice and dedication that they’ve shown.”
Masuku says that for him, remuneration and rewards for healthcare workers is “a no brainer.”
“It is going to happen. It is just the nature that how is it going to be and how it’s going to be like. I will be one of the people who will be speaking in support of the remuneration and incentives and bonus or reward to be given to our healthcare workers.” – Health-e News