File photo: Dumisani Sibeko

Johannesburg -

The Gauteng health department's poor financial management was seriously impacting on patient well-being within public health facilities, civil rights NGO Section 27 said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Section27 has noted reports in today's Times newspaper relating to the shortages in staff at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital (CMH) and reports of the shocking impact this is having on services in the hospital,” the NGO said.

“But the crisis at CMH is a manifestation of a far larger problem. It relates to inadequate budgeting processes and poor management within the Gauteng Department of Health (GDOH).”

Section 27 said whenever problems within the Gauteng health department were made public, the department first denied there was a problem and then shifted spending instead of addressing core issues.

The Gauteng health department had overspent its budget for the past seven years and as a result, every year the department was accumulating debt.

“Early in 2012, the GDOH's inability to pay suppliers of goods and services came to a head as several suppliers stopped supply to hospitals,” the NGO said.

The Gauteng health department had paid suppliers through a combination of using this year's budget and through measures such as freezing the appointment of staff.

This meant the department was likely to run into similar problems this year, Section 27 said.

The NGO called on the Gauteng health department, together with the national health department and the Treasury, to draw up and publicise realistic budgets for all health care facilities in the province.

“These budgets must be based on a quantification of the need for health (rather than historic spending), which has repeatedly been shown to be inadequate in the face of a growing population and growing burden of disease.”

The Gauteng health department was not available for comment. - Sapa