File picture: Jennifer Bruce

Johannesburg - The National Health Laboratory Service has allegedly overcharged the Gauteng Department of Health more than R1 billion.

An official from the department claimed the NHLS inflated the prices and sometimes duplicated invoices.

“They have been overcharging us over a period of time. Sometimes they charge us for invoices that are for other provinces. We have raised this with the NHLS, and they know they are overcharging us and have to repay that money,” said the official.

The official also claimed an audit was conducted last year and that it confirmed this was true. This comes after the NHLS threatened to suspend services to the Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal health departments last Thursday.

NHLS chief executive Sagie Pillay wrote a letter to his staff earlier this month, informing them that services would be suspended to these two provinces because they had failed to pay their bills.

An NHLS insider said they had decided to withdraw services because the KZN Health Department owed them R3bn in debt that had accumulated for years, while Gauteng owed R900 million.

However, the Gauteng Health Department hastily paid R77m to prevent suspension of services.

When The Star approached Pillay egarding the allegations of overcharging against the NHLS, he declined to comment. However, he confirmed that an agreement with Gauteng had been reached and services would, therefore, not be suspended.

The NHLS provides diagnostic laboratory services, research, and screening for HIV and TB patients.

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The Star