R8.9 billion claims against Gauteng Health Department

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC

Liability claims against the Gauteng Health Department have increased dramatically to R8.943 billion, up from R4.75 billion the previous year.

This information is disclosed in the Gauteng Health Department’s Annual Report tabled recently in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature. The figures reflect the situation as at 31 March 2014.

Most of the claims are Medical-Legal arising from alleged negligence in hospitals. These have more than doubled from R3.025 billion as at 1 April 2013 to R6.566 billion as at 31 March 2014.

There is a further liability of R1.5 billion from the premature termination of contracts, and R855 million from civil claims.

The rising tide of negligence claims reflects poor conditions in our hospitals. Last month there were two large pay-outs for medical negligence:

  • 1 million paid for brain damage to Lethabo Matlawa when he was born at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital
  • 1 million paid to Brenda Mdlalose and Arnold Vilika, parents of baby boy Magkabangewe who was brain damaged at the George Mukhari Hospital

Large pay-outs are eating into the R31.5 billion Gauteng Health Budget, reducing money that should be used to improve treatment.

We cannot continue with such high levels of tragedy from medical mistakes.

Effective measures must be taken urgently to curb medical negligence, particularly in maternity departments.

Mothers should have confidence that their babies will be delivered safely in hospitals.