The South African Medical Association (SAMA) has called on Government to come up with an urgent solution to the adverse closure of more than 30 National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) in Kwazulu Natal and Gauteng due to provincial Governments reneging on R1.7 billion in health bills.
SAMA is deeply concerned that the lack of laboratory services is impairing service delivery in Kwazulu Natal and Gauteng public hospitals.
Chairman of the association, Dr Norman Mabasa, said the lab closures places immense pressure on our doctors in the execution of their duties and in appropriately caring for their patients.
“Blood tests are being compromised and it is a sad and unfortunate ordeal that patients have to suffer for the mistakes of provincial Governments. The closure of these laboratories will have an irreversible impact on the patient’s lives and therefore we call on the Government to put an end to this urgently” he said.
“The laboratories are an integral part of patient management and this service cannot be restricted or cancelled,” he explained.
SAMA has noted with concern that though only KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng owe NHLS, the closure of these labs is beginning to affect other provinces.
Dr Phophi Ramathuba, Chairperson of the Public Sector Committee at SAMA expressed her distress saying, “Our doctors need answers, we cannot go on like this,”
“It’s not just patients who are affected, training of Registrars and research has come to a halt and our members have reported that they currently do not have certain kits for tests including pregnancy tests supplies,” she added.
Dr Mabasa said Government's failure to deal promptly with this issue may result in further delay in prescribing medication because of the backlogs of blood tests at consolidated facilities.