Government will reprioritise funds to make R350m available to recruit new health professionals, says Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.
The Minister tabled the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement in the National Assembly on Wednesday.
“Access to healthcare services is enshrined in our Constitution and in our Bill of Rights. We will continue to work closely with the national Department of Health and other role players to ensure that the gradual phased implementation of the National Health Insurance is adequately financed.
“We are immediately reprioritising R350m to recruit in excess of 2,000 health professionals into public health facilities,” he said.
Mboweni said a further reprioritisation of funds will avail R150m to be used to purchase beds and linen for hospitals where the need is more dire.
These two interventions will build on the Presidential Health Summit convened last weekend, which has brought a new focus to improving the quality of healthcare.
Meanwhile, the National Treasury said in its Medium Term Budget Policy Statement that government is strengthening community-based services to improve primary healthcare and extending health coverage to all South Africans.
“To enhance the quality of care, the Office of Health Standards Compliance is auditing quality standards in health facilities.
“Over the [next three years], an additional 2,200 critical medical posts will be created in provinces and medical student internships will expand.
“The Community Health Worker Programme will implement the minimum wage and funding is allocated to provinces from 2021/22 to support this. Funds are also provided to expand antiretroviral treatment in support of the universal test-and-treat policy.”
The National Treasury said the construction of a 488-bed academic hospital in Limpopo is expected to begin in 2019/20.
“In preparation for National Health Insurance, the Department of Health and the National Treasury are working on a new payment mechanism, based on the number of patients served, for contracted general practitioners.
“Health sector budgets are generally under pressure due to an increased caseload and budget constraints.
“Unpaid bills and medico-legal claims pose significant risks. The Department of Heath will work with provinces to enhance the quality of the care they provide and improve their audit outcomes,” it said.
The department will establish expert teams to assist provinces in mediation and litigation processes to manage medico-legal claims.
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