Questions over Eastern Cape strategy on R29bn in negligence claims

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The Eastern Cape Health Department has released a detailed list of “interventions” to deal with its burgeoning R29bn slate of medical negligence claims against hospital and clinic staff, but, according to the Daily Dispatch, the strategy raises many questions.

It says it is clear from the document that the provincial government warned President Cyril Ramaphosa a year ago that “the medico-legal challenge … could collapse the provincial administration”. The provincial government’s executive committee passed a resolution then which also paved the way for the provincial Treasury and the Office of the Premier (OTP) to take steps, including withholding funds, to address problems in the Health Department.

Treasury was mandated to conduct a forensic audit while the OTP was supposed to take over health’s legal functions. All the proposals are contained in a document tabled during a lengthy presentation to the provincial legislature’s Scopa. However, there was little updated information on the current status of plans first discussed almost a year ago.

The raft of interventions to stop the financial and administrative haemorrhaging within the department included “a safe caesarean section plan”, appointing clinical staff to health facilities, training community health workers, a review of cases by retired specialist doctors, and supply of medical equipment to 28 targeted facilities.

The document, titled ECDOH Medico-legal strategy update – July 2020, contains scant detail. The department simply notes that it has ‘strengthened its systems to respond to the medico-legal challenge’. The Daily Dispatch report notes a glaring error in a calculation of the amount spent on medical equipment for 26 targeted healthcare facilities, which it says calls into question the full schedule of items procured.


Full Daily Dispatch report (Subscription required)


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