Sheriff raids Gauteng health department as negligence payments soar

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

I am appalled by the shameful scene yesterday (29 October) when the Sheriff of the court took away furniture from the Gauteng Health Department’s head office because of non-payment of a court-ordered medical negligence settlement.

This comes after the Department settled 17 medical negligence claims amounting to R79.6 million so far this year.

This information is revealed by Acting Health MEC Lebogang Maile in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

The largest payment this year is R22.2 million paid to Thato Mokheti for negligence at Sebokeng Hospital in operating a mass on his neck which resulted in him losing the use of his right arm.

R15 million has been paid to Mr Cleopus Souls who lost his left leg after negligent treatment at Natalspruit Hospital for a gunshot wound.

There were five payments for causing brain damage to babies at birth, the amounts ranging from R700 000 to R14.6 million.

Other cases include the following:

  • R700 000 for the death of a baby at the George Mukhari Hospital;
  • R500 000 to Nomathemba Tshabalala because a pair of scissors was left in her stomach after surgery at the Rahima Moosa Hospital; and
  • R471 000 to a patient who was sterilized without her consent at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.

There are 76 further claims currently before the courts that total R793 million.

These cases are all very tragic. No amount of money can compensate for severe injury or needless death in our hospitals.

The Department has lost 17 court cases in the last five years, yet persists in wasting legal costs in cases where negligence is firmly established.

This is why Acting Judge Ronee Robinson is demanding that Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Maglangu pay punitive legal costs out of her own pocket in a recent case.

This department needs a shake-up to ensure that medical mistakes are minimized and legal payments to victims are expedited in a fair manner.