AMID a security scare at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, a decision on whether health facilities should be accorded special protection to avoid a repeat of the damage caused by striking public workers last year is yet to be endorsed by the national government, Gauteng health MEC Ntombi Mekgwe said on Friday.
Former MEC Qedani Mahlangu in September announced plans by the provincial department to lobby Parliament to declare public health facilities as "national security points" as a way to accord them 24-hour protection to prevent vandalism that could lead to loss of life.
On Saturday, Premier Nomvula Mokonyane said in a statement she had received reports that certain people were deliberately switching off the oxygen supply to patients in intensive-care units and operating theatres.
Ms Mokonyane, who described these acts as murder, is due to visit Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital tomorrow .
On Friday, about 600 workers at the hospital marched and presented a memorandum of grievances that included the disbanding of a certain surgical division and the alleged refusal of the CEO to engage with workers at bargaining forums.
Wage talks between the government and the public service unions were under way and the state had made a "final offer" of a 6,8% rise, which the unions were discussing with their members, said Sizwe Pamla of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union.
Ms Mekgwe said that security arrangements at health premises were at an "engagement level with all stakeholders involved" but Gauteng would not compromise or tolerate any security breaches.
"Firstly, we are engaging with security companies to ensure that they do the job that they are procured to do," she said.
Ms Mekgwe unveiled a R25,2b n budget but lamented the funds were not enough for the 11,19-million people in Gauteng who constitute 22,4% of the national population. But R7bn was allocated to district health services, an increase of 18%.
Members of the health and social development portfolio committee said there was a continuous under- funding of R2bn by the Treasury.
"The R2bn must be found somewhere," committee chairman Molebatsi Bopape said.
The Democratic Alliance’s Jack Bloom said: "There was considerable overspending and underspending across various sections of the department last year", which explained why the Treasury cut some of the funds. "Remember that this is a department that received a disclaimer from the auditor-general report and underspent R66m last year," Mr Bloem said.
Ms Bopape surprised members of her committee when she said that the Gauteng Shared Services Centre must be prevented from providing services to the department.
But Ms Bopape later said the statement was made in her personal capacity and did not form part of the portfolio committee report.