DA shadow member of the executive council (MEC) for health Jack Bloom. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg  - The Gauteng health department underspent its 2018/19 budget by about R631.4 million despite massive backlogs and failure in providing services, the opposition Democratic Alliance said on Wednesday.

This came out during a meeting of the Gauteng legislature health committee on Tuesday which considered the department’s 4th quarter report, DA shadow member of the executive council (MEC) for health Jack Bloom said in a statement.

The worst culprit was district health services, where the under-spending amounted to R823 million and was blamed on "delays in the release of payments, while R504 million was not spent on machinery despite many hospitals in the province having broken equipment.

Bloom noted that emergency services also failed to spend R153 million due to "delay in the filling of vacant posts and the release of payments to fleet services".

"The overall underspend was partly offset by overspending in other parts of the budget, which shows poor financial discipline," he said.

"Provincial and central hospitals overspent by R703 million, and R283 million in administration was overspent because of the payment of legal claims against the state."

He urged new Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku to ensure that this year’s R50.8 billion budget was spent effectively to provide quality service.

African News Agency/ANA