Xolani's Daily Comment

How Dysfunctional is our Public Health System?

The Sheriff of the Court raided the headquarters of the Gauteng Health Department on Wednesday morning following its failure to settle a medical negligence claim.

Expensive leather chairs were the first items to be removed by the sheriff as part of an attachment order. The order, according to a member of the transport team, was to take 400 desks and 300 computers and chairs. It is believed the furniture and computers are from the MEC’s office.

Three big eight-ton trucks were parked outside the Health Department at 37 Sauer Street in the Joburg CBD.

One of the removal workers told The Star that employees on the 23rd floor were agitated and in a panic as their furniture and equipment was removed. He said the Sheriff was offered a cheque, but he refused to take it.

The department is facing massive legal claims totalling billions of rand. The claims arose after several patients, most of whom were pregnant mothers, were admitted and treated negligently at various public health institutions in the province.

These details were given by acting Health MEC Lebogang Maile in reply to written questions by the DA’s Jack Bloom.

In his replies, Maile said this year alone, the department had paid out 17 medical claims made against it. Maile said it paid out R2.6 million in May after a pregnant mother was treated negligently and her baby was born with cerebral palsy. In a separate case, an amount of R9m was paid to a woman whose child was also born with cerebral palsy.

Amounts totalling millions were paid out to other patients due to negligence.

At Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, a patient was paid almost R500 000 after the hospital sterilised her without her consent.

Another patient visited Natalspruit Hospital with a gunshot wound and the treatment he received resulted in the amputation of his leg.

Does anyone still have doubts about how dysfunctional the public healthcare system is?

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