Gauteng health facing claims totalling R22bn for medical negligence

16 April 2018 - 14:28 By Kgaugelo Masweneng
Gauteng Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa.
Gauteng Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa.
Image: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Thulani Mbele)

The Gauteng health department paid out R521-million in medical negligence claims between January 2017 and March 2018.

This was in respect of 138 cases. The department is still facing a further 1‚597 cases totaling more than R22-billion which are currently before the courts.

This was revealed by Gauteng health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in response to questions by Democratic Alliance (DA) health shadow MEC Jack Bloom‚ who has expressed concern over the claims which will cost close to half of the department’s R46.4-billion budget.

The claims relate to neonatal deaths‚ hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy‚ obstetrics and gynecology‚ post caesarean section sepsis‚ orthopaedic and surgical‚ anaesthetics and patient falls.

Bloom said there should be consequences for negligent hospital staff who should be “properly disciplined”.

“It shows that hospital conditions have not improved significantly to prevent medical mistakes that harm patients‚” Bloom said.

According to Ramakgopa‚ “almost all hospitals are affected by medico-legal claims”.

The department’s freeze on new medical appointments is hindering the ability of hospitals to provide quality health care‚ Bloom said.

“Unfortunately‚ the department’s freezing of medical posts will increase the risk of more negligence claims which further deplete the budget‚” Bloom added.

Meanwhile‚ doctors at Gauteng state hospitals have not been paid for overtime and have been told that the health department does not have money to pay them‚ Bloom claimed.

“I have received reports that overtime has not been paid to doctors at the Tembisa‚ Leratong and Yusuf Dadoo hospitals and probably other hospitals as well. Some doctors at the Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital have also been short-paid this month‚ but were told that it was an administrative issue that would be sorted out‚” he said.

“But Mr Boy Ngobeni‚ the Head of the Gauteng Department of e-Government‚ confirms in a letter that the GHD has given instructions not to pay overtime to medical professionals.” Bloom said.