The Select Committee on Appropriations has received a briefing from the Office of the Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA) and the National Department of Health on medical-legal claims and their impact on provincial Health care budgets.
AGSA said medico-legal claims are costing the health sector an accumulative R77 billion and the amount has, over the years risen significantly rather than the planned reduction. AGSA further said by 31 March 2022, 15 148 medico-legal claims were lodged against the Department of Health valued at R125 billion. The committee heard that provincial health facilities lacked reliable and accurate record-keeping and, in most cases, this was caused by a shortage of administrative staff.
The committee recommended that the focus shifts towards improving patient services at healthcare facilities rather than funding for possible litigation. The committee also called for significant improvements in archiving and record keeping and called for the establishment of an electronic card management system.
The committee further welcomed reports from various provincial health MECs who shared their province’s plans to mitigate rising medico-legal claims and their support for strengthening record-keeping management. The committee noted that the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act (NARRSA) calls for the designation of senior staff to ensure the implementation of sound records management. The Chairperson of the committee, Ms Dikeledi Mahlangu emphasised that issues of health are societal issues and need everybody to be on board.
The committee welcomed the news that the AGSA is conducting a forensic investigation into law firms involved in litigation against provinces on medico-legal claim matters.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.