The Gauteng Health Department is facing a total medico-legal liability of R29 billion, and is working with the National Health Department to deal with the claims.
This was disclosed today by Phindile Baleni, Director-General in the Premier’s Office, at a meeting of the Gauteng Legislature’s Oversight Committee on the Premier’s Office and Legislature (OCPOL).
This is an alarming amount which is nearly 60% of the Gauteng Health Department’s entire budget of R50.8 billion. It is a lot higher than the figure of R21.7 billion in the 2017/18 Gauteng Health Annual Report.
This amount of money could have wiped out the maintenance back-log for all hospitals and clinics in Gauteng, purchased all equipment needed, filled all critical posts and built the 6 new hospitals that are required in Gauteng.
Baleni admitted that some cases should have been settled and not defended in court but there were also suspected fraudulent cases referred to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), including the same case lodged in three provinces.
I welcome her assurance that they are looking to reduce the root causes of the high negligence claims and that mediation should be done as soon as a letter of demand is received.
The present situation is unacceptable, with claims dragging on for years in the courts and new claims still pouring in.
Most of the multi-million claims are because of babies afflicted with cerebral palsy at birth.
A professional legal strategy is needed to speedily process legitimate claims and block fraudulent claims, and also fix the conditions at hospitals that lead to medical mistakes.