“These payments are affecting the budgets of public facilities and, in turn, the delivery of services.”
IF THE government is serious about improving the delivery of health care in the country, it has to move with speed to reduce the R100billion 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 where there are serious budgetary constraints, as Mboweni’s Budget has demonstrated, we can ill afford to fork out so much of taxpayers’ money due to health workers’ negligence.