Gauteng MEC for Health Gwen Ramokgopa. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi

Johannesburg - The Gauteng health department is heading for a R5 billion deficit at the end of the financial year on March 31, the Democratic Alliance said on Sunday.

"This was disclosed by Gauteng health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in reply to my questions at a meeting of the Gauteng legislature’s health committee earlier last week," DA Gauteng MPL Jack Bloom said.

"She says that the department is currently R1 billion in the red and that the remaining R4 billion would be accruals for debt to unpaid suppliers."

According to Ramokgopa, the department was underfunded by R200 million for the cost of living adjustment for staff, and had paid about R400 million for medical negligence claims. Large companies owed money were being paid according to a three-year plan.

"I am disappointed that the department has still not resolved its money woes despite years of 'turnaround' promises," Bloom said.

"It’s premier David Makhura’s biggest failure - he has failed to reverse the department’s endemic corruption, waste, and inefficiency, and presided over the Life Esidimeni tragedy in which 144 mental health patients died.

"It is clear that the ANC provincial government has neither the skills nor the political will to do what is required for a decent public health service in Gauteng," Bloom said.

African News Agency (ANA)