The National Health Education & Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) in the North West has expressed concern about what it calls ‘privatisation’ of the provincial health department. This follows numerous reports that the department sources private services to provide core functions across the health grid.

Scopa has labelled the department as one of the worst performing government departments in the North West, following its questionable spending patterns.

The department is accused of outsourcing services from private companies while they have capable employees to provide the services themselves.

“You have the Department of Health which is probably left with less than 40% of what belongs to the state as an employer. You have privatised services of supply chain here in this Provincial Department of Health. A company has been appointed to do supply chain when you’ve got employees that can do the supply chain. You have a company called Marang which has been given to do the human resource function. When you have human resource offices across the province where health facilities exist. Why are you doing that? You have ambulance services which we strongly believe the department can render its services outright and directly to the people,” said NW Nehawu Provincial Secretary Patrick Makhafela.

However, the department does not seem to have the same view. They say private companies are indispensable to the efficiency of the department.

“Yes, we do have a lot of agencies – if we need temporary cleaners for the time being, we have agencies that supply us.  We’ve always had private ambulances helping us when some of our ambulances are not ready to assist,” said NW Health MEC Magome Masike.

Nehawu says they are worried about the amount of money these private services cost, especially for the cash strapped department.

The department is currently not paying its service providers, due to a depleted budget.