Gauteng health MEC Hope Papo. Picture: SOWETAN
Gauteng health MEC Hope Papo. Picture: SOWETAN

PLANS to stabilise the Gauteng health department will be a focal point when health MEC Hope Papo on Friday presents details of the department’s performance during the 2011-2012 financial year — possibly the worst period in the history of the department.

Gauteng health spokesman Simon Zwane said on Thursday this week’s appointment of five senior managers will be a significant step towards bringing stability to finances and top management.

Some senior staff members had left the health department, and one of Mr Papo’s first tasks had been to fill vacant posts at the top level.

The department had been struggling to clean out accruals worth over R4bn, which lead to a decision by the national Treasury to step in. Without payments, several service providers withheld their services, a situation that nearly brought health services to a collapse.

When Mr Papo presents the annual report at the Gauteng provincial legislature on Friday, he will be under pressure to report on the progress made in implementing a two-year departmental turnaround plan, since he took over the reigns in July.

Some of the major challenges in the department included underfunding, with criticism that the provincial treasury was unable to find a solution year after year.

However, Andiswa Jass from the provincial treasury said last month the health department had no capacity to manage funds.

With more people using primary healthcare as a first point of contact, it was expected that this would reduce the burden on provincial hospitals, which often had to cater for patients from outside Gauteng and South Africa.

The provincial government was in the process of negotiating a different funding model for the department, primarily as a result of migrant patients, and a huge influx of people coming into Gauteng daily in search of better economic opportunities.

Mr Zwane said the MEC was "engaging with the Treasury to try and secure resources to support major hospitals".

He said the department was also reviewing contracts that were costly.