Eastern Cape Finance MEC Oscar Mabuyane. File Picture: African News Agency

Bisho - The Eastern Cape Department of Health has spent R630 million on medical malpractice claims during the 2018/19 financial year.

The amount was revealed by the Eastern Cape Finance MEC Oscar Mabuyane during the provincial budget speech on Tuesday. 

Eastern Cape Department of Health gets the second largest budget allocation of R25 billion, next to the Department or Education which was allocated R36 million. 

Countless medical malpractice claims have been a major crisis facing the department and are currently valued at around R21 billion in unsettled claims. 

About 80 percent of these claims have been lodged in the OR Tambo region. 

Mabuyane blamed unscrupulous lawyers and said the state was closing down on them. “We will strengthen the legal team and law enforcement agencies to deal with fraudulent claims. 

"The health sector must push for finalisation of the State Liability Bill as it proposes structured payments over time when government is found liable."

In this year's budget allocation, the provincial department of education received the largest allocation of R36 billion. 

About R26 billion is allocated for hiring and payment of teachers, while R602-million is directed towards universal access to Early Childhood Development, R570 million towards scholar transport and R1.2 billion towards school nutrition. 

Mabuyane said the province was feeding 1.6-million pupils through school nutrition programmes at 5,000 schools. 

African News Agency (ANA)