NELSON Mandela Bay’s new R20- million state of the art haematology unit, which is supposed to provide support to blood cancer patients, is standing idle due to a crippling staff shortage at the unit.
Health Department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the unit would come into operation only after the "due processes” of hiring by the department were finalised.
"It is not that it won’t operate ... the unit will be resourced but the process of appointing individuals is still ongoing and unfortunately the authorisation for hiring people is at the Department of Treasury, which is monitoring the way the department is doing things at the moment,” he said.
"Further, there was a push for this ward to be opened even though things there were not yet finalised and this is the kind of thing that has put the department under pressure.”
This comes after unit head Dr Neil Littleton reportedly said "Bhisho will not employ them [staff] because there is a moratorium [on hiring] ... because there is no money. The unit is standing empty, and I refuse to move in until they employ the right staff.”
Meanwhile, the department insisted there was no moratorium on filling posts, but conceded it did not have the budget to hire the staff.
"The human resources budget is in the red,” Kupelo said, declining to provide figures until after a key meeting next week at which officials will try to convince the provincial Treasury to increase their budget.
Kupelo said the provincial health department’s human resources budget had been under strain for the past five years, after it was compelled to pay for the higher salaries introduced by the government’s "occupational-specific dispensation” without getting a commensurate increase in its budget. This unfunded mandate was worsened by theft and corruption, he said. Additional reporting by Business Day