Poor management, unfunded payments cause Health overspend

2008-11-13 00:00

Poor controls and a lack of skilled management have contributed to the over-expenditure of R2,732 billion in the KZN Health Department over the past two years.

This emerged at a press briefing yesterday called by the department to explain why it is so dramatically over budget. A large chunk of the expenditure is said to be beyond the department’s control since the national government introduced the Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD) without enough funding.

However, management problems became evident when MEC Peggy Nkonyeni outlined the fiscal adjustment plan worked out with provincial Treasury to rescue the situation.

This includes:

• Strengthening management capacity at institutional level.

• Checking on the existence of ghost employees by routine integrity checks on the Persal payment system to verify the number of staff in each institution. The Witness has learnt that at least two human resources staffers at a hospital in northern KZN face suspension over ghost employees. One of them staffers was paid a salary of over R48 000 in the last two months.

• Tighter management of overtime pay and subsistence and travel costs.

• Recovery of overpayment of OSD from nurses. An audit by the auditor-general’s office identified overpayment amounting to R28 million.

• More controls in supply chain management with an examination of all contracts.

• Checks to eliminate fraudulent practices in the area of medicines.

• Tighter management of the National Health Laboratory Services arrangements to ensure that the costing of services to the department is correct.

Nkonyeni said that all nine Health Departments in South Africa are over budget due to the OSD payments. She said Health will receive an extra R740,159 million to help alleviate the situation, subject to approval by the legislature.

The legislature’s Finance committee is scrutinising departmental budgets as part of the mid-term expenditure reviews. Health will appear before the committee on November 20.

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