Gauteng health department's mediation strategy saved R10m in medical negligence cases, says MEC

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A doctor comforts a patient.
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The Gauteng Department of Health has saved R10m by adopting a mediation process in dealing with cases of medical negligence in the province.

"The mediation process has proven to be one of the most successful factors in reducing cases of medical negligence and, by large, reducing the contingent liability thus far," Health MEC Bandile Masuku said on Thursday.

"It has cost-effective tools and can be implemented at any stage, during and/or before the litigation process. It is less acrimonious and helps to improve the patient experience in the health system," Masuku added.

The figure of R10m excludes the possible legal and medical expert costs that could have been incurred through litigation if these cases were not mediated.

The department said the amount formed part of the contingent liability which had been reduced from R22bn to R20bn.

"Some reflect as debt when in fact some were finalised long ago, so the data still needs to be cleaned and we are awaiting a final report," The department's head of legal services, Hlengiwe Goba, said.

News24 earlier reported the department's medical negligent claims had soared to R29bn.

READ: Medical negligence claims in Gauteng have increased to R29bn - DA

In a statement on Wednesday, the DA's spokesperson on health, Jack Bloom, revealed lawyers acting for the victims of medical negligence have attached R310m from the department's bank accounts backdated to April 1, 2019, to date. 

"The attachments of R330m that are being paid now would be old court orders and it was a question of payment and misdirection of documents - it is not affecting what we are doing now in mediation," Goba said.

To date, the department has mediated 13 cases since October 2019.

"The mediation of these matters was very successful, not only did the department save on the capital amount, it is also important to note that the greatest savings was on litigation costs which would have accumulated through the years even before the matter had gone to court," Masuku said.

The department recently reached an undisclosed settlement with Martha Marais' family after she was tied to a bench in the waiting area of Mamelodi Hospital last year, News24 reported.

The settlement was reached with the help of the SA Human Rights Commission and facilitated by retired judge Neels Claasen of the SA Medico Legal Association.

ALSO READ: Gauteng health dept settles with family of Martha Marais who was tied to Mamelodi Hospital bench

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