Gauteng health owes NHLS more than R2.5 billion - CEO

CEO OF the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS), Professor Shabir Mhadi, says the institution is being weakened by provincial health departments that are either cash strapped or in debt.

Workers at the NHLS are facing massive backlogs on their return to work this week, following a five-day strike.

Nehauw suspended the work stoppage on Tuesday, pending the finalisation of an agreement of a 7.3% salary increase.

The laboratory at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital ground to a halt last week Wednesday, forcing the institution to outsource work. This has led to a pile up in bills.

Mhadi says Gauteng owes over R 2.5 billion.

In so far as the major crisis, it relates to cash flow and that is because very few provinces honor their debt as well as not to say what they are currently consuming, and I have to emphasise it is just one or two provinces that are problematic and dragging the entire system down.

Prof. Shabir Mhadi, CEO OF the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS)

We have the greatest challenge with is Gauteng province, Gauteng owes an excess of about R2.5 billion. Last year alone, Gauteng accumulated a debt of 780 million. This year alone each month they consume 154 million of services and they are paying the NHLS R 100 million.

Prof. Shabir Mhadi, CEO OF the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS)

He says this has impacted the quality of services they provide.

There are two places where the NHLS faces a backlog, in fact, independent of the strike.....both linked with the state of the equipment which NHLS has failed to invest in because it does not have the funds.

Prof. Shabir Mhadi, CEO OF the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS)

Mhadi explains how it has become difficult to retain staff because of the mentioned challenges.

There are just too few pathologists remaining within the NHLS services to be able to provide timeous service. They are becoming frustrated because the NHLS is always under financial duress, so instead what they are dong is leaving the NHLS to go to the private sector.

Prof. Shabir Mhadi, CEO OF the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS)

The institution provides health services to over 80% of the population and is the sole service provider for the entire public sector.

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