Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The Gauteng health department’s failure to pay R6.2m to a victim of medical negligence has resulted in office furniture being attached by the sheriff.

The province’s health budget grew from R37.6bn in 2016, to R40.2bn in 2017, but the department does not budget for negligence costs.

In December 2009, a minor suffered a brain injury, which resulted in permanent severe damage and manifested in cerebral palsy, as a result of monitoring, management, post-natal care and treatment by doctors and staff at Pholosong Hospital.

On March 8 2017, the High Court in Pretoria ruled that the department pay R6.2m within 30 days to O Joubert Attorneys on behalf of the plaintiff.

"Should payment not be effected within the aforesaid period, the plaintiff will be entitled to recover interest on the taxed or agreed costs at the rate of 10.5% calculated from and including the day after the date of settlement of the costs or of taxation, up to and including the date of final payment," court documents said.

The department failed to pay up and a notice of attachment in execution, dated July 7 2017, ordered the sheriff to attach items to the value of R6.2m.

The inventory included three lounge suites, 10 fridges, 10 microwaves, 50 printers, 200 filing cabinets, 400 computers, 400 desks and 600 chairs.

DA health spokesman Jack Bloom said some staff even hid their personal laptops when the sheriff came to collect in fear their items would be attached.

However, the value of the attached goods, at just more than R403,000, does not cover the negligence bill.

To date no healthcare professionals have been held accountable for negligence that led to cerebral palsy and brain damage in hundreds of babies at public hospitals across the province.

The department has pleaded poverty before the Constitutional Court, claiming that paying out lump sums for medico-legal cases would cripple it, but failed to substantiate this. The department did not respond to questions on how it planned to manage its mounting debt.


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