The Gauteng health department spent R94 million on private legal firms in the past year, Democratic Alliance health shadow minister MEC Jack Bloom said on Tuesday.
He said, according to a written reply by health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa, the department’s legal unit was understaffed and its lawyers handled 300 cases each.
“Ramokgopa admits that the understaffing affects the unit greatly, in terms of ensuring that cases are prepared well in time, work is at the acceptable standard and presented to the MEC and HOD timeously for approval of mandates,” he said.
Bloom said his party was concerned that a lawyer handled about 300 cases, many of which were medical negligence cases where compensation amounts were claimed.
“There is no way that they can give decent attention to each case, some of which are fraudulent. Furthermore, poor management has led to six legal officers resigning in the last year. The department should not be spending R94 million a year on private lawyers when most legal work could be done in-house.
“I also suspect corruption in the use of private legal firms that are probably grossly overcharging. The DA calls for a high-calibre, fully staffed legal unit to handle all health legal matters speedily and cost effectively, including the avalanche of medical negligence claims,” he said.