0301 Johannesburg Hospital CEO, Sagie Pillay. Johannesburg Hospital. 310308 - Picture: Jennifer Bruce

Johannesburg - The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) will not suspend its services to the Gauteng health department, a spokesman said on Monday.

“Gauteng made a commitment to them to pay and we are paying them,” department spokesman Simon Zwane said.

“The services will not be suspended in Gauteng.”

He said the department was presently in talks with the NHLS over the amount owed. The department was disputing the amount.

The Star on Monday reported that the KwaZulu-Natal health department owed NHLS R3 billion, while Gauteng owed R900 million.

The NHLS last week threatened to suspend services to both departments if the amounts owed were not paid.

Zwane told Sapa the Gauteng department paid R77m on Friday.

The NHLS is the largest diagnostic pathology service in South Africa covering around 80 percent of the population.

It provides diagnostic laboratory services, research, production of sera for anti-snake venom, and screening for HIV and tuberculosis patients.

Divisions of the NHLS include the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, National Institute for Occupational Health, National Cancer Registry, and the SA Vaccine Producers.

NHLS chief executive Sagie Pillay declined to comment.

The KwaZulu-Natal health department referred queries to its head of department Sibongile Zungu, who could not be reached. - Sapa