HEALTH Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says no cuts will be made to the funding for the Western Cape’s two biggest teaching hospitals, insisting the figures given to the province earlier this week are just a draft budget still open for revision.
Nothing was cast in stone until Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan presented the national budget on February 27, he said.
"It’s not final. There’s no way I’ll agree to chopping money off central hospitals," said the minister in an exclusive interview with Business Day.
The minister said the Treasury had written to departments instructing them to adjust their budgets in line with the latest census figures, published last year.
"But central hospitals are national assets, that can’t have their resources allocated only on the basis of the (provincial) population. I’m not accepting these cuts," he said.
Earlier this week, the Western Cape provincial health department was informed by the national Department of Health that R173m would be shaved off its National Tertiary Services Grant over the three-year budget cycle starting on April 1, a move it said cast doubt on the minister’s argument that he wanted to take control of South Africa’s biggest teaching hospitals to secure their funding.
The minister said exactly the opposite was true: he wanted greater oversight of South Africa’s 10 central hospitals to give them greater protection from these kinds of threats.
The National Tertiary Services Grant is what is known as a conditional grant, with funds earmarked for training and the provision of specialised services. It is administered by the Department of Health, which distributes the money allocated to it by the Treasury to the provinces.
The Western Cape’s share of the grant goes primarily to Groote Schuur and Tygerberg, and a small share is allocated to Red Cross Children’s Hospital.