Why the Western Cape health department may have to freeze more than 2 000 posts

News24 reports that the Western Cape health department says it will have to freeze more than 2 000 posts if it does not get additional funding following the public sector wage agreement. Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said she would be working closely with her national counterparts to enact the needed change in the healthcare system. “Only together can this situation be addressed, as it affects every single one of us. Should National Treasury not allocate additional funding to compensate for the increased public wage sector agreement, the department would have to freeze 2 362 posts in order to afford the higher salaries,” she said. It followed after the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union came to agreement to increase public wages, in the wake of the public healthcare worker strikes earlier this year. 

According to the department, when accounting for the impact of conditional grant reduction on the department’s budget, the financial pressure of the agreement increases to approximately R1.295 billion or 2 581 posts. Mbombo said following Health Minister Joe Phaahla’s budget speech on Tuesday, their concerns regarding provincial budget allocations remain. “While we understand the constrained fiscal environment the country is in, and appreciate the national government admitting that it has continuously underfunded the healthcare sector, financing needs urgent attention in order for the health sector to achieve Universal Health Coverage,” she said. 

The provincial government allocated an additional R4.611 billion over the next three financial years to mitigate some of the financial pressures in the health department. However, Mbombo said if the national government did not fund the wage agreement, this would exacerbate the financial pressures.

by Marvin Charles

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