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Billions of rands in medico-legal claims continue to cripple EC Health: DA

Feb 6, 2020
Billions of rands in medico-legal claims continue to cripple EC Health: DA

Bhisho - According to the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape, the Department of Health in the Eastern Cape faced a contingent liability of R29 billion at the beginning of this financial year.

"The overwhelming majority of this liability is made up of medico-legal claims against the department," described Jane Cowley, MPL - DA Eastern Cape Shadow MEC for Health.

"This is a massive and very worrying 21% increase from last year when contingent liability was R24 billion.

"Of great concern is the fact that the total budget for Health in the province for this year is only R25 billion, which is R4 billion less than the contingent liability."

Cowley said that the Auditor-General has stated in his report that the delivery and sustainability of health services in the province are materially threatened.

"This stands in sharp contrast to the medico-legal claims against the Health Department in the Western Cape, which stand at only R110 million," she added.

"In the last financial year, the Eastern Cape department paid out R797 million to successful claimants. This impacted negatively on all spheres of medical services, which were compromised by reduced budgets.

"The great tragedy is that reduced budgets result in reduced services and care, which impacts negatively on human health and lives. No amount of money can compensate for the loss of lives due to poor care and negligence."

Cowley said that further if Health Departments cannot cater efficiently for the health needs of citizens at a provincial level, one can only imagine the potential disaster that may unfold if the total health care system becomes a centralized state managed entity. 

"We have seen the systematic collapse of all entities run by the state. While these have brought our economy to its knees, the collapse of health is far more serious as its failure will be counted in corpses," she explained.

"I have written to the Eastern Cape MEC for Health, Sindiswa Gomba, to urge her to take bolder steps in professionalising health services in order to enhance care and reduce negligence in our province. Scrutinising health care best practice in the Western Cape would be a good starting point."

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