Tšepong depletes govt coffers: Moleleki

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Pascalinah Kabi

DEPUTY Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki says the Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital is bleeding government coffers through huge costs for the treatment of patients at the health centre.

despite the government’s good intentions when it signed a Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement with Netcare 10 years ago.

The government owes Tšepong nearly M400 million (exact amount: M399,634,963.54) for its provision of extra services. The amount owed is slightly the same amount of M400 million (33 percent) the government of Lesotho committed towards the capital costs of the construction of the Tšepong hospital in 2008.

Based on the contract with the government, the hospital is supposed to attend to a maximum of 310 000 outpatients and 20 000 inpatients per year and anything beyond the agreed numbers, the government is charged an unfixed amount per patient and referred to as “extra services”.

In the current financial year, the government has allocated M2 billion to the Ministry of Health, of which, M763 million will be used to pay Tšepong and this includes the M550 million, which will go towards the annual subvention paid to support the hospital’s operations.

The government has since said it wanted the Tšepong contract revised as it felt it had no say in the running and monitoring of the hospital although it provides budgetary support.

Addressing the National Assembly last week, Mr Moleleki said government reserves were dry because of grievous mistakes that the country committed in the past years.

He fingered the Bidvest Fleet Management contract and Tšepong hospital as a cause for concern, adding that the construction and operation costs of the Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital were unsustainable.

“Although the primary objectives of this hospital were good, it has its own shortcomings along the way that have chowed down the government resources to such an extent that the BBC Radio referred to it as crisis that had hit Lesotho. Moreover, what happened in this current financial year will go down in history reflecting how the hospital is financially bleeding Lesotho dry,” Mr Moleleki said.

Netcare, formed the Tšepong consortium in partnership with local companies – Excel Health (20 percent shareholding), Women Investment Company (10 percent) and D10 Investments (10 percent) and a South African company, Afri’nnai, (20 percent).

Under the PPP, the government entered into an agreement with Tšepong Consortium in 2008 to operate the hospital, which serves as the country’s main referral healthcare facility.

In addition to the hospital, Tšepong has four clinics as part of the Lesotho health network under the PPP agreement. The hospital opened its doors to patients in 2012.

The Ministry of Health earlier this month released a document titled: The National Referral Hospital Public Private Partnership Project Brief, dated March 2018, in which they explained the government needed to pay for additional services provided between 2014 and 2017.

In 2014, additional services were provided to a total 40 274 people treated as outpatients while 6 148 were attended as inpatients, amounting to M87 million and that the outstanding balance is M12.2 million.

In 2015, the hospital billed the government M107 million (exact amount: M107, 159, 891.79) for services provided to 38 941 outpatients and 7 388 inpatients.

The government is also expected to cough-out M124 million (exact amount: M124, 240, 180.98) to pay for extra services provided to 35 283 outpatients and 8 196 inpatients in 2016 while in 2017 the government incurred extra services cost amounting to M108 million (M108,486,930.32) for 29 065 outpatients and 6 811 inpatients.

The costs per patient (under extra services) have been escalating since 2014 during when the consortium charged government M13, 597 for an admitted patient and M81 for an outpatient. It is not clear whether these costs are based on the various number of days each admitted patient spent in hospital or it’s a blanket fee.

The costs went up in 2015 to M14, 059 for an admitted patient and M84 for an outpatient while in 2016 the cost for an admitted patient was M14, 776 and for an outpatient at M89; and in 2017 the government paid M15, 530 for an admitted patient and M93 for an outpatient.

Still explaining the high costs endured by the government, Mr Moleleki said Tšepong expenses were coupled with those of Bidvest Fleet Management contract, which the previous government unfortunately entered.

“The Bidvest deal worsened the situation which had been affected by the fact that the Southern African Custom Union (SACU) remittances had drastically dropped, impacting the already affected state reserves. The then parliament did not expect to hear these things, but these are the facts this parliament should know,” Mr Moleleki said.

He however said there was still hope for government to recover from this financial drought through the new budget presentation methods introduced in the 2018/19 national budget by Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro.

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