Finances an issue at Eastern Cape clinics – health dept

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Cape Town - The Eastern Cape health department has told Parliament that budgetary constraints have hampered efforts to meet recommendations to improve infrastructure in the province.

The department was presenting to the portfolio committee on health on Wednesday, and said the past financial year had been "very strenuous" and had placed limitations on improving healthcare.

"We were forced to institute austerity measures and this included placing a moratorium on the appointment of non-clinical posts," Health MEC Pumza Dyantyi said.

Dyantyi said, however, that the department was still committed to fulfilling its service delivery mandate in filling "non-negotiable" vacancies.

Around 12.9% of posts - just under 6 000 jobs - were still vacant in the province, the presentation read.

Meanwhile, the province's ambulance fleet had increased from 306 to 416 over the past two years. 

Tracking systems were fitted on all the vehicles to assist in improving response times during emergencies.

"Fast-lanes" for children, the elderly and people with disabilities would also be implemented at clinics around the province to decrease long waiting times for these patients.

The department also said construction plans had been approved to refurbish Bambisana Hospital in Lusikisiki.

An infrastructure plan was signed on Monday and a contractor would now be appointed.

Committee chairperson Mary-Ann Dunjwa said the meeting was the first of many, and MPs would continue to consult the department on its progress going forward.

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