The Gauteng Health Department says it has
saved R10m in medico-legal costs by using mediation to settle medical
negligence cases in the province. According to Health MEC, Bandile Masuku the
mediation process has proven to be one of the most successful factors in
reducing cases of medical negligence thus far.  Speaking at a mediation strategy briefing at
the department’s offices in Johannesburg, Masuku said the R10m formed part of a
R2bn reduction in contingent liability from R22bn to R20bn which has been
achieved through mediation and the interventions of CAJV, a legal investigative
company.

Also speaking at the briefing, the
provincial department’s chief director of legal services Hlengiwe Goba said CAJV
was appointed to clean the data and resolve issues of how much or how many
cases have been processed so far. She said the investigation has revealed that
some of the claims were duplications and that some were finalised a long time
ago.

“We have started with mediation and in a
space of two months we have settled six cases out of court. This has saved the
department R10m on the capital amount and it is important to note that the
greatest savings was on litigation costs which would have accumulated through
the years even before the matter had gone to court,” Goba said.

Fifty-three cases were also given to the special
investigating unit (SIU) of which 10 cases will be closed because some of them
are dormant and don’t exist, Goba said.

Masuku said the mediation policy and the
mediation strategy has been approved by the executive committee and the
department started implementing it in October 2019. He said the department is
focusing mainly on the three key areas which are internal issues within
institutions that were identified as the root causes of the issues around
litigation, re-visiting the consortium and standard operating procedure with
the state attorney and also addressing the challenges within the head office
legal services.

“This was adopted as a further strategy to
not only mitigate litigation, but to also analyse and eradicate the actual root
causes of medico-legal court cases,” Masuku said.

Last week, DA’s spokesperson on health in
Gauteng, Jack Bloom revealed that lawyers acting for the victims of medical
negligence have attached R310m from the department’s bank accounts backdated to
April 1, 2019, to date

Goba said the R330m attachments are old
court orders and that payment in these cases were delayed because of a “misdirection”
of documents. She confirmed that the payments are being made now.