“This is not a department of justice – it’s a department of health,” DA provincial shadow minster of health Makhosazana Mdlalose said.
In his recent response to questions put to him by Mdlalose in the legislature, health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo revealed that medical negligence claims against the department amounted to nearly R1 billion.
Among the health institutions being sued, Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital faced the highest number of claims – 16 – to the value of R100 million.
“The high number of claims point to something very wrong in the department’s quality control processes,” Mdlalose said.
There was a need for the department to undergo a process of introspection to identify areas where intervention is urgently needed, Mdlalose said.
“There is a need to seriously look at the issue of proper training, as well as professional work ethic among the department’s health professionals,” she said.
It was not adequate for the department to just concetrate on rolling out services without focusing on the issue of quality.
“Otherwise money meant for the delivery of health services would now be used to settle legal claims,” she said.
However, the department of health cautioned against premature conclusions on pending legal matters.
“Claims are just claims and should be treated as such,” KZN provincial health spokesman Sam Mkhwanazi said.
While making allegations is one thing, proving them in a court of law is quite another, said Mkhwananzi.