'You have 24 hours': Masuku threatens Bloom over claims of 'runaway costs' of Nasrec hospital

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Gauteng MEC for Health Dr Bandile Masuku.
Gauteng MEC for Health Dr Bandile Masuku.
Sharon Seretlo, Gallo Images via Getty Images
  • Embattled Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku has threatened to take action against Gauteng DA MPL Jack Bloom.  
  • Masuku wants Bloom to retract his media statement that under Masuku’s leadership, R500 000 was spent per patient admitted to the Nasrec field hospital.  
  • Bloom claimed that only 700 patients were admitted at the 1 500 facility.  

Embattled Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku has threatened action against Gauteng DA MPL Jack Bloom.  

Masuku has called on Bloom to retract his media statement that, under Masuku’s leadership, R500 000 was spent per patient admitted to the Nasrec field hospital.  

Bloom claimed that only 700 patients were admitted at the 1 500-capacity facility.  

"The Nasrec field hospital was commissioned on 15 June this year and has so far admitted 604 patients for quarantine and isolation, and 96 patients for intermediate care including oxygen. The total bed capacity is 1 500 but there were only 25 patients as at 28 August 2020," he said.  

"The facility has cost about R350 million in total, which means that R500 000 has been spent on each patient. This is a colossal waste of money caused by poor judgment and probable corruption as connected people benefited from large contracts.  

"The quarantine patients could easily have been accommodated at hotels, and private hospitals could have been paid to treat the 96 patients who required intermediate care." 

Bloom said, at some stage, doctors had to appeal for oxygen to be donated to assist patients.  

"The runaway costs of the Nasrec facility are yet another reason why Masuku who is suspended should be fired in addition to his failure to prevent the massive corruption in the PPE contracts," Bloom said.  

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Masuku’s lawyer Mojalefa Motalane said Bloom’s statement was factually inaccurate, was aimed at misleading the general public, and has tarnished Masuku’s image and professional reputation.  

"This constitutes a gross violation of his constitutional rights to human dignity. The media release lacks context and is insensitive to the critical task of saving the lives of the people of Gauteng per the Covid-19 Response Plan.   

"The Covid-19 response plan is based on scientific modelling and projections. This means that it is a risk adjustable strategy that follows the infection rate trends. The approach of Bloom and of the DA is rather dangerous, misguided and reckless. It is an attempt to score cheap political points at the expense of the lives of the people.   

"As far as our client is concerned, at the time of procuring the Nasrec facility, the costs per patient were estimated to be at R770 (excluding VAT) and, currently, the facility is adjusted to 503 beds in terms of capacity. It is our client’s firm belief that a cautious approach must be maintained because the country could still experience a second wave of infections," Motalane said.  

Motalane slammed Bloom for his statement that the facility was accumulating ‘run away costs’, saying it stood against the fact that the facility had reduced bed capacity.  

"In the event that Bloom fails to retract his 'false' statement within 24 hours, we will not hesitate to take the necessary action," Motalane warned.

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