Private hospitals in Gauteng will officially welcome non-paying patients for COVID-19 care in the future, in the event of a violation of public capacity. It comes after provincial government structures struck a deal with the facilities over the weekend, potentially saving millions of dollars in public funds.
Gauteng: Private hospitals enlisted to house COVID-19 patients
Gauteng has gone through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic but seems to have come out the other side. Hospitals have reported a 25% drop in patient admissions, and some officials believe the peak has already occurred. The situation has improved significantly in recent weeks:
- There are currently 4,541 patients in Gauteng public hospitals, up from around 6,000 a few weeks ago.
- Some private intensive care beds may be needed if there is a subsequent spike in cases – but capacity is no longer a burning issue.
- The field hospitals of the Tshwane Expo Center, Chloorkop and Rand Hospital had already been affected, and their estimated cost of R600 million would have put terrible pressure on local purse strings.
An eye on the looters
Jack Bloom is the shadow health MEC for Gauteng. He says the strategy of putting public patients in private hospitals is a smart move, but he is also aware that unfilled field hospital contracts provide an opportunity for dishonest R20;COVID-takersR21; to pounce.
“We welcome the agreement between the Gauteng Department of Health and private hospitals to take public patients with COVID-19 if necessary. This is a much smarter strategy that foresees new field hospitals with a budgeted cost of over R600 million which are unlikely to be needed at the time of construction. ”
It is clear that the Ministry relied too long on discredited models that predicted a subsequent peak in the pandemic requiring large numbers of beds in August and September. They now agree that “current public sector beds will be adequate” and that private sector beds will be used as needed.
“I hope that all contracts for new field hospitals will be canceled so that bidders do not benefit.”