EC hospital 'won't close'
East London – Matatiele's troubled Taylor Bequest Hospital will not close down, the Eastern Cape health department said on Wednesday.
Spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo was speaking following a visit to the hospital on Wednesday morning by health MEC Phumulo Masualle.
"The hospital is not facing closure: it will not be closed," Kupelo said. "But there are administrative problems that must be sorted out."
The assurance follows speculation that the district-level hospital would shut its doors at the end of this month.
Kupelo said Masualle had on Wednesday identified a number of operational problems that could be easily resolved, and given officials at the hospital and in Bhisho until Thursday afternoon to sort out.
The MEC had also observed that the hospital was overspending on its R68m budget, some R59m of which went on salaries and other forms of remuneration to employees.
Kupelo said one of the biggest problems was dealing with the district municipality, which was submitting water bills that fluctuated wildly from month to month.
In one month the bill had been R106 000, the next, half-a-million rand.
The municipality had been asked to re-bill, correctly.
In addition, the municipality had not billed the hospital for a period of three years, despite reminders, and was now demanding arrears of some R2m.
Two hospitals of the same name
Another issue was that there were two Taylor Bequest hospitals in the Eastern Cape – the other at Mount Fletcher – which created confusion in billing and supply.
The MEC would engage with the trust that controlled the bequest on finding a way to eliminate the confusion.
Masualle was already speaking to the national department of public works about upgrading the infrastructure of the hospital.
Kupelo denied reports that the hospital was running out of oxygen.
Matatiele and its 24 wards, with a population of about 80 000, were incorporated into the Eastern Cape from KwaZulu-Natal in 2006 — a controversial decision that was opposed by the community, opposition parties and chiefs in the area.