Med­i­cal claims bill is out of hand

Pretoria News - - OPINION -

IF THE gov­ern­ment is se­ri­ous about im­prov­ing the de­liv­ery of health care in the coun­try, it has to move with speed to re­duce the R100 bil­lion med­i­cal claims bill.

The ever-ris­ing claims against the state, if left unchecked, have the abil­ity to crip­ple the de­liv­ery of health care to the most vul­ner­a­ble mem­bers of our so­ci­ety.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Tito Mboweni raised the mat­ter when he de­liv­ered his Bud­get speech in the Na­tional As­sem­bly last week.

Mboweni said “since 2014, con­tin­gent li­a­bil­i­ties and pay­ments of medico-le­gal claims in the pub­lic sec­tor have in­creased at an av­er­age an­nual rate of 30% and 23% re­spec­tively.

“In 2018/19, medico-le­gal claims’ con­tin­gent li­a­bil­i­ties reached R99.2bn while medico-le­gal claim pay­ments reached R2bn. Th­ese pay­ments are af­fect­ing the bud­gets of pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties and, in turn, the de­liv­ery of ser­vices.”

The gov­ern­ment has at­tempted to shift the blame by at­tribut­ing the in­crease of medico-le­gal claims to un­scrupu­lous law firms ready to squeeze the pub­lic purse.

How­ever, the Health Depart­ment can­not ab­solve it­self as the state of pub­lic health care has been on the de­cline for sev­eral years.

Proper train­ing of nurs­ing staff, con­se­quence man­age­ment, pro­vi­sion of med­i­ca­tion and ef­fi­cient man­age­ment of health fa­cil­i­ties could go a long way to tack­ling this prob­lem.

The in­tro­duc­tion of Na­tional Health In­sur­ance will en­counter se­ri­ous chal­lenges if mea­sures are not im­ple­mented timeously to deal with ris­ing med­i­cal claims.

In times like th­ese, when there are se­ri­ous bud­getary con­straints, as Mboweni’s Bud­get has demon­strated, we can ill af­ford to fork out so much tax­pay­ers’ money due to health work­ers’ neg­li­gence.

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