By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health:
The Gauteng Health Department has spent R161 million in legal fees in the last 4 years.
This information was revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
According to Mahlangu, this is because of “the high influx of cases”. Legal fees paid have increased as follows:
- 2012/13 – R10.2 million;
- 2013/14 – R42.2 million;
- 2014/15 – R71.1 million; and
- March 2015 to date – R37.5 million
Mahlangu blames the state attorney for delays in payment which have resulted in visits by the Sheriff of the court to attach furniture. She says that “in most cases the state attorney delays to inform the Department of court orders but as soon as the Department is aware of court orders it effects payments on time”.
My view is that the department gets poor value for its high legal fees as it has lost every single medical negligence claim in the past five years.
Unnecessary appeals are also lodged which the department has lost.
Mahlangu says that the department “is considering alternative dispute mechanisms such as mediation to reduce high litigation costs”.
I support this idea as it is speedier and cuts out expensive lawyers.
The best solution is to run a good health service so that the department does not have to defend itself so often in the courts.