The North West Health Department has discovered unpaid invoices worth millions at its Mmabatho medical depot.

Some medical suppliers have refused to distribute medication to various health facilities in the province due to non-payment affecting more than 50 companies.

An unannounced visit by some officials of the department of Health in the province was triggered by non-payment of medical distributors which led to the suspension of services.

Invoices were allegedly found lying around while others were found in drawers gathering dust. One of the invoices seen by the department indicates that it is owed R21 million and payment has yet to be made.

Health MEC Madoda Sambatha has lambasted senior managers at the medical depot saying they have failed in their jobs.

Sambatha says, “We have people who are employed by the Provincial, they are paid to process invoices, what they do, they keep invoices in theri drawers and offices while suppliers are not paid. Then the crisis comes to an element of non-availability of medicines in the medical store because you owe up to 2014 and cannot keep on delivering to you.

MEC Madoda Sambatha refutes allegations that the suspension of management team at the Mmabatho Medical Depot is based on personal interests:

This non-payment has left many health facilities without medication.

Trade union National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) has called for drastic measures to be implemented.

NEHAWU regional chairperson in Ngaka Modiri Molema District Zanele Lawu says, “It is important that the department should ensure that they apply consequence management to those managers who are responsible for ensuring that suppliers are not being paid on time and itself they affect the delivery of medicines in hospitals and clinics.”

Sambatha says, the department has already started investigations against seniors officials at the depot and temporary managers were put in place.

Sambatha says, “They are working with temporary management which is deployed in between handling the disciplinary action of the ones that are suspended to finally and based on the outcome we could then know whether those that are charged are found guilty or not. But what we cannot do, we cannot decide in public they are guilty, they are going through a DC…”

The department is adamant that the distribution of medicine to health facilities across the province will again run smoothly from next week.