Western Cape seeks compensation for treating ‘migrating’ patients

2014-02-20 16:23

Western Cape hospitals are buckling as patient numbers continue to increase, particularly because of migration from the Eastern Cape.

In an unprecedented move, the province’s health MEC, Theuns Botha, has called on the national government for compensation.

He wants to challenge the formula applied by National Treasury when allocating provincial budgets.

“The statistics confirm there is a large migration to the Western Cape from especially the Eastern Cape.

“We are prepared to service the new patients who require our health services, but our stance is that it is national government’s constitutional obligation to compensate provinces for services rendered,” he told journalists today.

Botha said health budgets should be allocated to provinces based on criteria such as population size.

He presented figures showing a 28.8% increase in the Western Cape’s population since 2001, saying the province now faced a quadruple burden of disease and that the demand for healthcare would rise as migration continued.

“We live in a liberated era where people move as they wish.

“It cannot be that we then deprive the very same people of the services they deserve simply because government’s formula for the distribution of funding does not follow the services rendered.”

He cited Tygerberg Hospital as an example. The hospital in Cape Town’s northern suburbs has 1 384 beds, 4 478 staff members, 800 toilets and 14 000 people moving through it daily.

He said just to maintain the hospital would amount to an estimated R193 million loss in 2014/2015.

Waiting times at medical facilities are at “unacceptable levels”, he said.

» Patients with open fractures can wait for longer than 12 hours before the first operation is performed

» Patients with an enlarged prostrate wait an average of one year for an operation

» Patients requiring hip- and knee-replacements can wait between one and eight years for an operation

» Cancer surgery patients may wait between six and 16 weeks

» Spinal surgery patients can wait for four months

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