Date: 29 May 2018
Note to Editors: The following debate was delivered by DA Mpumalanga Chief Whip, Jane Sithole MPL, during the tabling of the 2018/19 budget for the Department of Health at the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature.
Honourable Speaker, Florence Nightingale was a trailblazing figure in nursing who greatly affected 19th and 20th-century policies around proper care. She was known for her night rounds to aid the wounded, establishing her image as the ‘Lady with the Lamp.’
She often used the following quote “What cruel mistakes are sometimes made by benevolent men and women in matters of business about which they know nothing and think they know a great deal”.
Honourable Speaker, these words are so relevant today as we stand here today, the Department of Health under the leadership (if one can call it that) of the Hon MEC Gillion Mashego.
Honourable Speaker, the Honourable MEC will only tell this August House of the “good things”, he won’t tell this August House that the Department of Health started the new financial year with R1 billion of accruals, so already this department starts the New Year in a deficit!
The MEC will state that although his department is no longer under the moratorium, and the department will be wanting to absorb all community service nurses and doctors yet the department’s budget document states (and I am paraphrasing) “the department will not be able to appoint additional staff, which includes absorption of community service doctors and bursary holders nor will the department be able to appoint additional staff for new and upgraded facilities” .
Honourable Speaker, this infuriates me as then why Honourable MEC, was R90 million reprioritized from the Dept. of Education to assist with the payments of the new hospitals? Honourable Speaker do you want to know the worst part? The Honourable MEC Mashego actually underspent the previous year’s infrastructure budget by R90 million, so it was pointless!
It appears Honourable MEC, Florence Nightingale’s words were especially meant for you!
Honourable Speaker, recently in this August House the DA raised a statement on Sabie Hospital needing maintenance and yet in the budget document it states that “a number of health facilities require maintenance however, this cannot be achieved due to financial constraints”.
Honourable Speaker, the DA is concerned about the growing trend of the infrastructure budgets being increased with enormous amounts and it is said it is to improve the current infrastructure, yet at the end of the financial year there is no or little improvement and no money!
However, Honourable MEC maybe you need to relook at your infrastructure budget and see that a majority of infrastructure projects being budgeted in the next three financial years are being budgeted more than the actual cost of the project!
For example, Honourable MEC, Pankop as well as Oakley Clinic total projected cost is R51 210 000 per clinic and yet the department has budgeted R81 520 000 in the next two financial years for each clinic.
Similarly, Honourable Speaker, currently the department has started the construction of the new Middelburg hospital which will cost a staggering R975 605 000 in the next three financial years that if the MEC’s budget is anything to go by!
Honourable Speaker, we cannot afford to not speak about the doctors, nurses, cleaners, grounds men as well as security personnel who everyday deal with not only their own frustrations in the work place but those of unhappy patients who not only are sick but are tired of having to wait many hours just to get medical care, yet more and more healthcare workers embark in protest action due to unsafe and poor working conditions. The department often resorts to suspending the healthcare workers, instead of resolving these very pertinent issues that affects them daily.
Honourable Speaker healthcare it’s not something that can wait. Access to health care is a basic human right and as things stand, this right is being taken away from many patients across the province as their struggle continues.
Your legacy Honourable. MEC is going to impact on the quality of life for the poorest of the poor who depends on public health for many years to come.
I thank you!
Jane Sithole, MPL
DA Mpumalanga Spokesperson on Health
082 854 9711
Provincial Communications Manager
079 873 7590