Medical negligence claims out of control

2018-11-16 15:27
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The KZN Department of Health medical negligence claims bill has spiralled out of control.

In six months, the department has already paid out more than it had budgeted for the entire 2018/19 financial year for medical negligence claims.

On Thursday acting chief financial officer, Phumelele Shezi, told the finance committee that the department had already spent R133 million on medical negligence claims in the first six months of the financial year.

The department projected to spend R41 million at mid-year and R125 million in the total financial year.

IFP MPL Lourens De Klerk lashed out at the department for failing to decrease medical negligence claims.

“The department blames unscrupulous lawyers, doctors and everyone else except themselves. If you do not do your jobs properly, you will be sued. This high [number of] medico-legal claims proves that the service is not being given the way it should be,” he said.

Acting deputy director general for special services, Thandeka Khanyile, told the committee that the department had come up with a plan to decrease medical negligence cases.

“We are currently strengthening clinical services where we have noticed not so strong clinical supervision,” she said.

The department is defending lawsuits relating to medical negligence claims against the state totalling R17,56 billion.

Meanwhile, committee members expressed concern that the department had not had a permanent chief financial officer (CFO) in the current five year term that will end next year.

The last permanent CFO in the department was Mashaka Enos Ravhura, who was suspended in February 2014, a few months before the start of the current financial year.

In 2015 the then head of the department, Dr Sibongile Zungu, tried to appoint Ndoda Biyela to the position, but this was scuppered by MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo, who said there were serious allegations against Biyela in his previous job in Gauteng.

Since then different officials have acted in the position.

“You are now completing the term without a CFO. This is unacceptable,” said ANC MPL.

“You are a department that has a number of financial issues raised by the auditor general.

“Without a permanent CFO, it is very difficult to overcome these challenges. The sooner you finalise this issue, the better,” he said.

DA provincial spokesperson on finance, Francois Rodgers, said the long vacancy in the position of the CFO makes it difficult to enforce consequence management. “You can no longer hold anyone accountable because you will find that the person who was acting is no longer there,’ he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  kzn health department

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