KZN Health’s medical negligence claims spiralling out of control

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Medical negligence claims against KZN Health continue to mount, with the department having exceeded its total budget in just six months of this financial year.

News24 reports that this according to acting chief financial officer, Phumelele Shezi, who told the province’s finance committee that the department had already spent R133m on medical negligence claims in the first six months of the financial year. The department projected to spend R41m at mid-year and R125m in the total financial year.

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) MPL Lourens de Klerk said the department was failing to decrease medical negligence claims. “The department blames unscrupulous lawyers, doctors and everyone else except themselves. If you do not do your jobs properly, you will be sued. This high (number of) medico-legal claims proves that the service is not being given the way it should be,” he said.

Acting deputy director general for special services, Thandeka Khanyile, told the committee that the department had come up with a plan to decrease medical negligence cases. “We are currently strengthening clinical services where we have noticed not so strong clinical supervision,” she said.

The report says the department is defending lawsuits relating to medical negligence claims against the state totalling R17.56bn.

Meanwhile, committee members expressed concern that the department had not had a permanent chief financial officer (CFO) in the current five-year term that will end next year. The report says the last permanent CFO in the department was Mashaka Enos Ravhura, who was suspended in February 2014, a few months before the start of the current financial year. In 2015 the then head of the department, Dr Sibongile Zungu, tried to appoint Ndoda Biyela to the position, but this was scuppered by MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo, who said there were serious allegations against Biyela in his previous job in Gauteng. Since then different officials have acted in the position.

“You are now completing the term without a CFO. This is unacceptable,” said ANC MPL. “You are a department that has a number of financial issues raised by the auditor general. Without a permanent CFO, it is very difficult to overcome these challenges. The sooner you finalise this issue, the better,” he said.

DA provincial spokesperson on finance, Francois Rodgers, said the long vacancy in the position of the CFO makes it difficult to enforce consequence management. “You can no longer hold anyone accountable because you will find that the person who was acting is no longer there,’ he is quoted in the report as saying.

News24 report

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