The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) has improved its revenue collection from provinces and made substantial progress in tackling historic debts, two key developments that have helped stabilise its finances after auditors questioned its ability to continue as a going concern in 2017. Auditors SizweNtsalubaGobodo highlighted irregular expenditure of more than R1bn in 2016-17 and cast doubt on its ability to continue as a going concern because it reported a R1.879bn deficit for the year. The NHLS is a vital part of the public health service as it provides all the tests used for diagnosing and monitoring diseases. It also provides a training platform for pathologists and technicians, and offers some highly specialised tests not offered by private sector providers. "The picture is not rosy, but with the current levels of payments and pending agreements [on historic debt] the NHLS is in a better financial position than it was last year," board chairman Eric Buch said on Monday. ...

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