by Jack Bloom MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC
The Gauteng Health Department has paid out R521 million for 138 medical negligence cases since January last year, and the total amount that is claimed has risen to R22 billion.
This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
According to Ramokgopa, the claims relate to “neonatal deaths, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, obstetrics and
gynaecology, post caesarean section sepsis, orthopaedic and surgical, anaesthetics and patient falls.”
She says that “almost all hospitals are affected by medico-legal claims” and that 1597 more cases are before the courts for claims that amount to R22 031 357 961 00.
It is unclear what disciplinary action if any has been taken against the staff involved as Ramokgopa says vaguely that “there is engagement between the legal department and HR as most cases are old and some employees are no longer on the system.”
I am most concerned that claims have risen from R18 billion to R22 billion since last year, which is close to half of the Department’s R46.4 billion budget.
It shows that hospital conditions have not improved significantly to prevent medical mistakes that harm patients.
There should also be consequences for negligent hospital staff who should be properly disciplined.
Unfortunately, the Department’s freezing of medical posts will increase the risk of more negligence claims which further deplete the budget.