With a budget of R50.8 billion, the Gauteng department of health has had to spend a whopping R29 billion of this on medical negligence claims.
Since the beginning of April to date, the department has paid R237 million to settle medical negligence claims at various health institutions in the province, but that still does not cover the amount owed.
Department spokesperson Kwara Kekana confirmed that the department was finding solutions to lessen the burden of medical negligence claims, as they cost a lot of money that was not on the department’s budget.
“The department is working on several strategies to lessen the burden of medico-legal claims on the current financial year’s budget, this includes the mediation strategy which is anticipated to significantly reduce the quantum of these claims,” Kekana said.
According to DA Gauteng health spokesperson and MPL Makashule Gana, the department continues to use law firms to fight active medical negligence cases, even without a budget for it.
“The Gauteng department of health struggles to carry out its core mandate yet it wastes money on external services while it has an in-house legal team, they have spent R103,954,143 on legal firms for medical negligence claims for the 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial year. This indicates that the department’s internal legal unit is not capacitated to deal with such cases,” Makashule said.
He added that the money could have been used in providing much-needed hospital equipment. However, the department doesn’t have enough budget to pay for all medical negligence claims.
“The department currently does not have resources to pay for all the outstanding claims, as medico-legal claims are not budgeted for. Any payment which the department is forced to make, it is paid against the budget,” she said.