More people suing health department – minister
Study urges reform to cut soaring costs
accounting for almost half of this at R566-million.
Earlier this year‚ provincial health departments appearing before parliament said claims were skyrocketing mostly as a result of unscrupulous personal injury lawyers taking advantage of the system in much the same way as the Road Accident Fund had been used.
In last week’s mini budget speech Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said “estimated payouts for medical negligence claims have grown at an average rate of 45% since 2012/13 and amounted to R1.2-billion in 2016/17”.
Earlier this year‚ the South African Law Reform Commission released a discussion paper on medicolegal claims after being approached in 2015 to investigate the matter.
That report indicates an “urgent” need for law reform as no specific legislation exists to deal with medical-specific claims. It also states that the impact of these claims is “reaching dire proportions”.
“The more damages to be paid‚ the less money is available for service delivery‚ the poorer the quality of the service rendered by the hospital‚ the more room for negligence and error‚ the more claims.
“It’s a vicious circle and if not addressed‚ the entire public health system will implode‚” it states.
It also points to growing claims in the private sector, saying the Medical Protection Society‚ the largest indemnity backer for health professionals, found that long-term claim frequency increased by 27% between 2009 and 2015.
The number of claims exceeding R1-million had increased by nearly 550% and those exceeding R5-million had grown by 900% in the five years since 2008.
The report states that while “no attorney can manufacture a legal claim where none exists” concerns had been raised about attorneys’ behaviour, which ranged “from aggressive to unethical to blatantly illegal”. – TimesLIVE
If (claims) not addressed‚ the public health system will implode