Money owed to the Gauteng Provincial Health Department has been steadily increasing since the 2013/14 financial year with accruals now standing in excess of R7 million.
The ANC-led provincial government have solely laid the blame for this increase on the rate of in-migration into the province.
While there is some truth that in-migration adds strain to Gauteng’s healthcare network, the truth is that little has been done to reclaim money from patients who owe the department money.
This week, Gauteng Premier, David Makhura indicated that he would be issuing embassies with receipts for their nationals who have outstanding fees with the province’s hospitals and clinics.
The Department of International Relations tried a similar exercise a few years ago and the idea fell flat. It is hard to imagine that Makhura will succeed where others have failed.
To tackle this challenge, two things should happen.
The Gauteng Government should establish a medico-legal unit to trace people who have not settled their accounts with the department to ensure that debt is paid off.
Secondly, given that in-migration does play some role in adding to the amount of people accessing the system, Gauteng MEC for Finance, Barbara Creecy should lobby National Treasury for more funding during the adjustment budget period to ensure that some of this debt is covered.
The DA believes that every person is entitled to quality healthcare, but failure to collect money owed will cripple the healthcare system leaving thousands without access to critical services.