Health spending: Nkonyeni denies post freezing to save money

2008-08-25 00:00

Health MEC Peggy Nkonyeni yesterday hit back at DA MPL Margaret Ambler-Moore, whom she accused of being "hell-bent on destroying my efforts [to improve public health care]".

Nkonyeni was responding to comments by Ambler-Moore that were published in a Sunday newspaper, accusing Nkonyeni of reckless spending.

She blamed the department's financial mess on Nkonyeni and her management and accused the MEC of spending some of the much-needed funds on self-promotion through advertising.

"Ambler-Moore is hell-bent on destroying my efforts, and I think it is unfortunate that it comes from another woman. I understand that it is her job to do this [as a member of the opposition] É She might lose her job if she doesn't do it. It is not about Peggy displaying her photos at all."

Last financial year, the department overspent by R1,2 billion and this has allegedly resulted in posts being frozen and hospitals being told to cut their expenditure.

Recently Nkonyeni admitted that the department is in a mess and that sometimes suppliers are not paid on time.

However, she said yesterday that the main problem is underfunding. "If you are under-funded, you will obviously overspend because you are still required to render services. You can't turn people away just because you are under-funded; it is their right to receive services."

Her solution is to cut down on non-core services rather than freezing posts. "Maybe we can cut down on budget workshops, which are held to empower and capacitate our workers. We can cut down on hotel use by using our own space and facilities. But it is hard to freeze posts because those are essentials that are much needed," she said.

sphumem@witness.co.za

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