‘Hire-freeze’ harms department’s health

Daygan Eagar

THE hire-freeze decision was based on the view that the bulk of the department’s budgetary shortfall of nearly R2-billion for the 2012-13 financial year was caused by ballooning staffing costs that had to be controlled to prevent service delivery collapse.

In reality, the moratorium turned out to be a shortsighted attempt at austerity that pushed the already-overstretched healthcare workers to breaking point.

A superficial assessment of the budget will show overspending on staff salaries appears to be the cause of its financial woes. In 2011-12, the department overspent on its staff budget by more than R1-billion.

But overspending on staffing is only a symptom of more complex and longstanding problems with the allocation and management of the health budget.

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