Johannesburg – The Gauteng health department has paid R398m of its R1bn debt to the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS). Monthly payments of R106m were made between April and July, the department said in a statement on Friday. The NHLS previously argued that it was owed R1.5bn. The department said there were discrepancies in the pathology service’s billing. The department said there were duplicate bills, it was billed for services outside the province, tests performed that were not ordered, and tests ordered that were not performed. NHLS acting chief executive officer Shabir Madhi said on Thursday that they would not comment yet. The Gauteng health department had been indebted to the NHLS for well over four years. In 2014, the NHLS threatened to suspend services to the department if the R900m it was owed then was not paid. The NHLS is the largest diagnostic pathology service in South Africa and services about 80% of the country’s population, mostly in the public sector. It provides diagnostic services, research, production of sera for snake anti-venom, and screening for HIV and TB patients.