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DA sick and tired of medical negligence claims against Gauteng health as they climb to R29bn

Medical negligence claims have skyrocketed in Gauteng.
Medical negligence claims have skyrocketed in Gauteng.
Image: Tyler Olson/123RF.com

The Gauteng health department is facing medical negligence claims totalling R29bn.

Democratic Alliance Gauteng shadow health MEC Jack Bloom said on Thursday that the amount was disclosed by Phindile Baleni, director-general in the premier’s office, at a Gauteng Legislature committee meeting.

The information was made available at a sitting of the oversight committee on the premier’s office and legislature.

Bloom described the R29bn as an alarming amount, saying it amounted to nearly 60% of the Gauteng health department’s entire budget of R50.8bn. He said it was substantially higher than the R21.7bn in the department’s 2017/18 annual report.

“This amount of money could have wiped out the maintenance backlog for all hospitals and clinics in Gauteng, purchased all equipment needed, filled all critical posts and built the six new hospitals that are required in Gauteng,” Bloom said.

He said Baleni admitted that some cases should have been settled and not defended in court, but there were also suspected fraudulent cases which had been referred to the Special Investigating Unit, including a case lodged across 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.”

Bloom said the present situation was unacceptable, with claims dragging on for years in the courts and new claims still pouring in.

He said most of the multi-million claims were because of babies afflicted with cerebral palsy at birth.

A professional legal strategy was needed to speedily process legitimate claims and block fraudulent claims, and also fix the conditions at hospitals that led to medical mistakes, he said.

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