Health department coughs up millions in medical negligence claims

Issued by Jane Sithole – DA Spokesperson on Health: Mpumalanga Province
06 Sep 2023 in Press Releases

The DA in Mpumalanga calls on the department of health to introduce strict disciplinary measures for healthcare professionals who have exposed the department to millions in contingent liabilities. 

According to the latest quarterly reports, the department spent  more than R83 million on contingent liabilities. The reports show that the alleged negligence of healthcare professionals have cost the department amounts ranging from R11 000 to R19 million per case.

Once again, most of the claims come from children born with cerebral complications. This is evident of the province’s institutional maternal mortality which has been on a downward spiral. 

It is gravely concerning to note that consequence management is very weak as the healthcare professionals are protected by the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), which makes provision for the department to be held liable and not the medical personnel.

Despite this, the DA wishes to emphasize that the department has the responsibility to investigate and to hold their employees accountable. Currently the department has 13 employees on suspension with full salaries.

However, none of the healthcare professionals have currently been suspended due to negligence or malpractice. Instead, the report indicates that investigations are underway for possible consequence management.

The MEC and her administration seem reluctant to hold these healthcare professionals accountable. Litigations against the department cannot be resolved due to the lack of political will. 

The department cannot budget for contingent liabilities. It is therefore crucial that the department sets out strict disciplinary measures. We acknowledge that healthcare professionals are under immense pressure but due diligence must be upheld at all times. 

It is an open secret that our health facilities are in an appalling state. Thus, the DA is of the view that the millions spent on negligence claims could go a long way in improving the condition of our health care facilities.

We will continue applying pressure on the department to make sure that this financial burden is reduced.