The Gauteng Health Department has estimated that it will cost about R1.1 billion to fix the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital (CMJH) after the fire on 16 April this year, and is requesting the Solidarity Fund to assist.
This information was disclosed at the Gauteng Legislature Health Committee meeting last week. No date has yet been set for the hospital to be fully repaired, if it gets the money.
Jack Bloom – DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health – said in a statement on Tuesday:
“I doubt whether R1.1 billion can be obtained from the Solidarity Fund which was set up at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic last year. The Department itself is expecting no more than R200 million.”
Around R100 million is being sourced from the normal maintenance budget in this financial year to meet the safety requirements to open the structurally sound parts of the hospital.
Two of the five blocks in the hospital have extensive damage that will need additional funds.
“Extra funding should be sought from the national treasury as there is no provision in this year’s provincial budget to do the job,” said Bloom.
To speed things up, the DA has proposed a private/public partnership with a tight deadline to ensure that the hospital is fully re-opened as soon as possible.
This hospital (previously known as the Joburg General) was originally designed for 2000 beds, but fewer than 1100 beds were operational at the time of the fire.
Bloom suggests that private sector funding could expand the bed capacity so that a section of the hospital could be leased to a private hospital group to provide extra income for public patients.
“This was the original intention of the Folateng wards which were supposed to generate income by taking private patients. It failed dismally because the Gauteng Health Department tried to run it instead of contracting it to a private provider,” said Bloom.
The hospital needs a creative solution, he said, as “thousands of patients are suffering with every delay due to avoidable incompetence”.