Gauteng saddled with more than R20bn in medical negligence claims - Health MEC
This was a contention made on Thursday by Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku, who said the province's Judge President Dunstan Mlambo had told the government that the manner in which departmental bank accounts were attached by lawyers was non-compliant with prescripts of the law.
Masuku was speaking to The Star following the attachment of its bank accounts this week to the tune of R310m following non-payment of medical negligence claimants since April last year.
This emerged this week from Jack Bloom, the DA's spokesperson on health in the provincial legislature.
Masuku acknowledged yesterday that the province was saddled with more than R20bn in medical negligence claims, but that attachments initiated by “cartel lawyers” were not only non-compliant, but were “unfair because we are dealing with an essential service”.
“The engagement that we had with the Judge President here in Gauteng that also indicated the non-compliance in terms of attachments also gave us some confidence that these things will not affect us going forward.
“What this means is that we are also trying to prevent the future attachments because we want to just prevent the attachment of the accounts,” Masuku said.
“If there is a process followed and we agree that it has been compliant, then that is not a problem. But we don't want to get to that point because we want to have payment plans for people who have litigated us,” Masuku said.
He was speaking on the sidelines of a briefing in Johannesburg, where Masuku announced that his department had embarked on a mediation strategy, which is led by retired Judge Neels Claasen, to try and prevent the exorbitant claims against Gauteng's health services.
Masuku, who was flanked by Judge Claasen, revealed that the department had saved roughly R10m between October and November last year through 13 mediated claims.
These savings, Masuku explained, were the balance of the initial claim versus the amount settled for.
“The mediation process has proven to be one of the most successful factors in reducing medical negligence (claims),” Masuku said.
Bloom welcomed the mediation process, saying: “I welcome the department's shift to mediation to settle negligence cases as this will speed up cases and cut expensive lawyers' fees.”