Gauteng Health fails to pay grants of mental health patients on time - DA
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The DA in Gauteng has lambasted the Gauteng Department of Health for failing to pay NGOs looking after mental health patients for the past two months.
DA health spokesperson Jack Bloom said the late payments to more than 100 NGOs was causing suffering to thousands of mental health patients as staff went unpaid and even food was in short supply.
“These NGOs were supposed to be paid on May 7 but have still not been paid their subsidy of R4 900 per patient by the Gauteng Health Department.
“The delay is due to new service level agreements that should have been signed earlier, and also because of the new financial year which started in April.
“Every year there is a so-called ’dry season’ where payments are delayed because the department is short of funds as the new financial year starts,” Bloom said.
He said legal action had even been used in the past to get the department to pay.
Meanwhile, the welfare organisations struggle to provide for vulnerable patients, a task made more difficult by the extra expense incurred in dealing with the Covid-19 epidemic.
“I have communicated with Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi on this issue, and officials promised to pay by the end of last week, but this has not occurred.
“It is really appalling that mental health patients are treated so badly even after the Life Esidimeni tragedy. The department needs to get its act together and pay on time,” Bloom said.
Reacting, Gauteng Health spokesperson Kwara Kekana said some of the NGOs had already been paid, and the finance team had indicated that, this coming week, outstanding payments to NGOs would be prioritised so that payments were effected as soon as possible.
“The delay in payment was as a result of delays in the finalising of the amendments to the revised service level agreements,” Kekana said.