Pathology tests: KZN’s huge debt

2012-10-11 00:00

CAPE TOWN — KZN is the worst offender in failure to pay for pathology tests for state patients, owing R1,45 billion of the total R2,1 billion owed to the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS).

Sagie Pillay, the service’s CEO, told Parliament’s health portfolio committee yesterday that the second worst offender, Gauteng, has started to pay off its R470,7 million debt.

The cash flow crisis had got so bad that at one stage he had considered closing some of the laboratories that perform diagnostic tests.

“Because of the lack of money, we couldn’t pay the courier service and our staff went from lab to lab picking up samples themselves,” Pillay said.

MPs asked what was being done about the debt, criticising Pillay for allowing it to build up, but he said the NHLS could not implement sanctions against the provinces.

“We are in discussions with the national Health Department and the provinces, and we offer discounts to provinces that do pay.”

The NHLS’s chief financial officer, Devendra Erriah, said: “It’s a case of the left hand owing the right hand of the same person.”

Debt to the NHLS, on August 31, 2012

KwaZulu-Natal R1,45 billion

Gauteng R470,7 million

Eastern Cape R107 million

Western Cape R57,6 million

Limpopo R55 million

Free State R36 million

North West R35,9 million

Mpumalanga R17 million

Northern Cape R12 million

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