Pretoria - The Gauteng Department of Health has fingered corruption under the leadership of former Health MEC Brian Hlongwa as the cause of loss of revenue for the Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital to the tune of R4.8 million.
According to Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi, the reason patients at the hospital north of Pretoria were still suffering from an outdated system was because of the massive corruption under the former Health MEC's reign.
Mokgethi in responding to questions in the Gauteng Legislature said Hlongwa was currently on bail facing charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering along with other former senior Gauteng Health officials.
One of the charges relates to the award of a R1.2 billion tender to the Baoki consortium in 2008 to set up a health information and electronic health record system at the hospital.
The Health MEC said her department paid more than R400 million before their contract was cancelled a year later with no system having been installed.
According to Mokgethi, the Medicom system at the hospital had stopped functioning since January 23 this year, as a result of the continuous exposure to occasional power outages.
She said what aggravated the situation was that the infrastructure equipment for the system had been acquired between 2011 and 2012, and it was no longer under warranty or supported by the original manufacturer.
As a result of the age of the equipment, it reportedly became compromised and failed.
The Health MEC said the failure had hit the hospital hard as old patient files could not be retrieved forcing staff to open new paper files.
"The loss of the system has a huge negative impact on service delivery as it has resulted in the inability to retrieve files for medico-legal cases, Road Accident Fund claims, difficulty in following up on information for the SA National Blood Services and challenges in following up complaints lodged."
In the interim, Mokgethi said the hospital had resorted to using manual registers, however, this required "intense monitoring" and presented numerous challenges such as a high risk of fraud, possibility of theft or being misplaced.
To make matters worse she said the manual registry had no backups.
The DA's Jack Bloom said the estimated revenue loss due to the hospital's inability to bill patients properly and follow up debts was estimated at R4.8 million.
Bloom said thankfully the department had conceded that the outdated system could not be fixed, and that the hospital had been prioritised for the new health information system which they envisage will start on July 11.
"I have long advocated for a new health information system and hope they finally get this right as it is crucial to improve efficiency and to cut queues for patients," he added.