Gauteng health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Gauteng health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

The Gauteng health department paid out R521m in medical negligence claims between January 2017 and March 2018.

This was in respect of 138 cases. The department still faces a further 1‚597 cases totaling more than R22bn which are before the courts.

This was revealed by Gauteng health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in response to questions by DA health spokesman MEC Jack Bloom‚ who has expressed concern about the claims which will cost close to half of the department’s R46.4bn budget.

The claims relate to neonatal deaths‚ hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy‚ obstetrics and gynaecology‚ post caesarean section sepsis‚ orthopaedic, surgical, anaesthetics and patient falls.

Bloom said there should be consequences for negligent hospital staff who should be "properly disciplined".

"It shows that hospital conditions have not improved significantly to prevent medical mistakes that harm patients‚" Bloom said.

Ramakgopa said: "Almost all hospitals are affected by medico-legal claims."

The department’s freeze on new medical appointments is hindering the ability of hospitals to provide quality healthcare‚ Bloom said.

"Unfortunately‚ the department’s freezing of medical posts will increase the risk of more negligence claims which will deplete the budget further‚" Bloom said.

Meanwhile‚ doctors at Gauteng state hospitals have not been paid for overtime and have been told that the health department does not have money to pay them‚ Bloom claimed.

"I have received reports that overtime has not been paid to doctors at the Tembisa‚ Leratong and Yusuf Dadoo hospitals and probably other hospitals as well.

Some doctors at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital were also short-paid this month‚ but were told that it was an administrative issue that would be sorted out‚" he said.

"But Mr Boy Ngobeni‚ the head of the Gauteng department of e-government‚ confirmed in a letter that the Gauteng heath department has given instructions not to pay overtime to medical professionals." Bloom said.