File photo: Antoine de Ras

Johannesburg - Over R570-million worth of unpaid medical negligence claims haunt the Gauteng Health Department and now it's bank accounts have been attached to enforce payment.

According to the Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow MEC for Health in Gauteng Jack Bloom, there are 213 cases of medical negligence since 2018, which amounts to R574 730 051.

Bloom said the attachment of the department’s bank accounts was revealed by the Gauteng Health MEC, Dr Bandile Masuku in a written response in the Gauteng Legislature. 

“According to Masuku, the attachment of the Department’s FNB bank accounts was because of non-payment of court orders, and R170 485 745 is still owing because the Department has not budgeted for litigations relating to medico legal matters,” Bloom added.

Bloom further said that “It is really shameful that lawyers have to attach bank accounts to get court-ordered payment for medical negligence, mostly for children brain-damaged at birth”. 

Bloom said previously, the sheriffs of the court used to physically attach furniture from the department’s head office, but this was of little value so bank accounts are now attached.

“I commend the Department for its plans to resolve negligence claims by mediation instead of long court cases, but the first prize should be to dramatically improve treatment so that patients are not harmed in hospitals,” he added. 

Bloom said the high number of medical negligence claims does not give confidence that the government can successfully implement it’s proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) plans.

The Star