Dysfunctional Compensation Fund leaves medical professionals 'out of pocket'

2020-03-19 06:53
“The problem is that there are thousands of other people suffering in the country because of non-payment [by the Compensation Fund],” says an injured worker. (Archive photo: Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)

“The problem is that there are thousands of other people suffering in the country because of non-payment [by the Compensation Fund],” says an injured worker. (Archive photo: Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Lionel Rohlandt has been struggling with the Compensation Fund since 2017. He was injured at work in 2015, resulting in what is called a "through-knee amputation".

"I'm struggling with an [injury] that needs attention. But doctors can't give you a service without payment," Rohlandt told GroundUp.

He said that the last time the Compensation Fund paid the medical facility that treated him was in June 2017. The medical facility, he said, specialises in prosthetics and orthopaedic services and "has been very lenient [over fees]".

"They've always helped me. But at the end of day they also have costs," said Rohlandt. "The problem is that there are thousands of other people suffering in the country because of non-payment [by the Compensation Fund]."

The problem is that the fund's software, Compeasy, is dysfunctional.

As a result, many medical professionals are treating injured workers "out of pocket" due to the failure of the fund's system, according to the Injured Workers Action Group (IWAG), a coalition of independent organisations.

IWAG wrote an open letter on 5 March to Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi, commissioner Vuyo Mafata of the Compensation Fund and Group CEO of Britehouse Ed Gassner (the system implementers).

The letter urged the three parties to stop spreading misleading information on the failing Compensation Fund system.

'Some practices are gong on short time'

"This protracted dysfunctionality is having a direct impact on the lives of real workers who have been injured on duty across South Africa," it read.

Tim Hughes, IWAG spokesperson, told GroundUp: "The principal issue is that the entities that treat injured workers are not being paid for this treatment."

Hughes said that since the beginning of October 2019, when Compeasy was activated, the system did not accept registration details.

"Some practices are going on to short time because they've not been paid for [services] provided to injured workers," said Hughes.

He added that another "grave concern" for IWAG is that they've heard stories of applications being rejected when many of these applicants are "entitled" to treatment. "They are then redirected to a public healthcare facility, which often doesn't have the facilities required," said Hughes.

IWAG's open letter states that the Compensation Fund's 2018-19 annual report shows about 632 claims were made by injured workers. That number didn't include claims by the Federated Employers Mutual Assurance Company (FEMA) or Rand Mutual Assurance Company Limited (RMA).

IWAG estimated that "we now have to consider the possibility that close to 150 000 workers would have needed to claim since September, and that the vast majority would not have been able to do so".

Hughes explained that the old system, called Umehluko, also had some issues.

"We've switched from a relatively open and leaky system that has progressively improved, to one that is so complicated that people still can't register."

Hughes said they received correspondence from Mafata, the Compensation Fund's commissioner, regarding setting up a meeting in April.

Despite repeated attempts, neither minister Nxesi nor Mafata could be reached for comment. Britehouse's public relations department also did not answer their phones.

NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.