MPs this weekend made their 7th pitstop for the public hearings on the National Health Insurance Bill (NHI). With seven provinces covered thus far, only the Western Cape and Gauteng remains.
Spotlight returned to the North West recently to take the temperature of the health system. Sadly, the picture is not pretty. The health system has faced massive protests at health facilities, rampant corruption, staff shortages, drug supply challenges and a myriad other problems. One mother shared her story of loss.
We need to amend the National Health Act (No. 61 of 2003) so as to give the Minister of Health greater powers to intervene in provinces and avert disasters in provinces. If we do not, the Minister’s hands will remain tied when it comes to the next Life Esidimeni, the ongoing oncology crisis, and the non-placement of medical interns, argues Dr Ndiviwe Mphothulo.
A Gauteng-based ambulance operator, Buthelezi EMS, that is currently the subject of both Hawks and Treasury investigations has scored road and air ambulance contracts in the so-called Premier league provinces amounting to over a Billion Rand since 2013 and they are frontrunners to secure a lucrative new three year tender for Emergency Medical Services in the Free State.
Doctors and nurses in the Free State and North West have accused Buthelezi EMS, the private company contracted to run provincial ambulance services, of operating like a minibus taxi and “drop and go” service.
The Mpumalanga Department of Health has defied guidance from its provincial treasury and acted in contravention of the Public Finance Management Act in awarding a three-year contract to Buthelezi HEMS, a joint venture between a controversial private ambulance company called Buthelezi EMS and HALO Aviation. This has emerged from court documents obtained by Spotlight.
The North West health department has effectively outsourced the bulk of its emergency medical service to a private ambulance company who is submitting hugely inflated invoices every month with very little appetite by officials to stop the looting.
Spotlight joins the dots in this two-part investigative feature Health4Sale.