The Free State Health Department’s 2016/17 annual reports were expected to be under robust discussion during a sitting of the Free State Legislature’s Portfolio Committee of Public Accounts yesterday.
This comes after the Free State Provincial Treasury said the shortage of medication and limited emergency services by the department are among some of the pressing issues that need to be addressed.
The Head of the Provincial Treasury, Godfrey Mahlatsi, said the department is battling to stay above board with the high costs of medication and the provision of adequate emergency services.
He said the department, currently under administration, is already running above this year’s fiscal budget.
This also comes amidst mounting questions regarding the tender process to procure a new private ambulance service.
The Provincial Treasury, however, said the administration order might be withdrawn soon.
This is despite the department coming under fire for the lack of service delivery and adequate resources during a visit by the National Council of Provinces earlier this year.
According to Freedom Front Plus’s Wouter Wessels, after the Public Accounts Committee meeting, the Department of Health resolved to phase out the contracting of private ambulance services.
This is despite information which surfaced indicating that the department is in the process of procuring a new private ambulance service. Buthelezi Ambulance’s contract had expired after servicing the provincial public health sector.
The ambulance service got about R6.5 million per month amid a national shortage of ambulances. According to Wessels, the department stated that outsourcing of ambulance services would be gradually phased out as it would procure emergency vehicles of its own.
“I asked the question whether they are trying to phase out? Are they going to award a contract to a private service provider for a set number of years? He said that was not the case. They are only going to make use of Buthelezi Ambulance Services on a month-to-month basis,” said Wessels.