Hospitals could face stock shortage

2011-11-24 07:15

Medical suppliers have threatened to stop sending stock to state hospitals, due to the Gauteng health department’s failure to settle a debt of over R300 million, according to a report today.

Daily supplies required to deliver healthcare services in hospitals include life-saving and diagnostic devices for TB and HIV, gloves, syringes, needles and sutures, The Star newspaper reported.

Delivery of cancer diagnostic equipment was also expected to be stopped, while supplies of machinery, like scanners and ventilators could follow suit.

The SA Medical Devices Association (Samed), which represents members who supply 80% of products and devices used at public hospitals, revealed that more than R300 million was owed to 45 members, by the end of last month, the report said.

Some invoices date as far back as 2005 and range from between R25 million and R50 million per company.

Gauteng health spokesperson Simon Zwane reportedly said non-payment was caused by cash-flow problems, through old debts that hadn’t been paid since 2009.

The department had paid between R200 million and R300 million a month to suppliers, he said.

The finance department’s recent commitment to provide funding of at least R200 million, would relieve the pressure, Zwane was quoted as saying.

Marius Malherbe, head of the Samed task team – established to investigate non-payment of suppliers – said the problem could drive away suppliers from the public sector.

“It is going to compromise the training of doctors and nurses in hospitals, which will impact on healthcare delivery,” said Malherbe.

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