Parliament’s Health Portfolio Committee has called on the Department of Health to take over the medical care of victims of medical negligence at public health institutions amid dissatisfaction with the amount of money allocated to victims from court settlements, reports Cape Argus.
This would trim billions of rand from successful medical litigation, given medical negligence claims of R105bn at present in the system.
It is alleged by some clients of Durban-based Friedman and Associates that the firm had secured more than R1bn worth of claims against KZN Health. But some clients have had limited access to their money. The firm has rejected the allegations.
Portfolio committee chair Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo told the investigations unit that Health was facing a R26bn liability through litigation. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told the portfolio committee the department had settled R500 million. The auditor-general’s 2019/20 report revealed in March this year that the government was facing claims totalling R147.12bn of which the majority, totalling R105bn, were due to medical negligence.
It has been reported that Eastern Cape Health led the pack with claims totalling R36.75bn, followed by Gauteng’s R23.8bn and R23.4bn for KwaZulu-Natal.
Dhlomo said limitations were a huge burden for Health, which required properly trained healthcare workers to deal with the situation. ‘If the department can do that (take over the medical care of victims), that can reduce a big burden on the department to pay the fees claimed to be for future medical care. ‘They (Health) could just pay out what will be the amount to live from day one to day two and continuously, but the future medical care will be absorbed by the department,’ said Dhlomo.
Legally, the firms are not supposed to charge more than 25% of their clients’ settlement and the defendants contribute to payment to lawyers.
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