The Democratic Alliance in North-West is deeply concerned by the enormous amounts that is paid out by the North West Health Department due to malpractice and negligence.
The DA has continuously warned that MEC, Dr. Magome Masike, has a lack of control over the bad service and medical assistance his staff renders to the people of this povince and should intervene to keep perpetrators accountable and to spend the budget on essential, life-saving equipment. The latest figures revealed that more than R11 million was paid out during the 204/2015 financial year in malpractice lawsuits.
This excludes the legal costs.The DA contends that this is the direct result of the department taking no significant action whatsoever against officials who commit misconduct, or who are negligent – leaving them to reoffend on further patients. Last year Dr Masike responded to written questions by the DA and confirmed the North West Department of Health has spent more than R40 million on pay outs for malpractice lawsuits against them and an additional R30 million to cover the legal costs involved from 2011 until April 2015.
The Brits hospital is costing us millions, while theatres and wards remain empty as well. At the exuberant cost, the basic healthcare services needed are not even supplied. The DA conducted an oversight visit in 2015 to the Nic Bodenstein Clinic (former Bloemhof Hospital) after a resident, Mr Gert Pretorius (66) died due to suffocation – in front of his shocked wife. He was brought to the centre with extreme shortness of breath and distress. No oxygen was available in the emergency room.
The lack of trained medical staff, poor maintained emergency vehicles and long waiting hours for ill patients raised alarms. Despite promises, Masike never responded to questions from the DA on the state of the Nic Bodenstein Clinic. Not long after that horrific incident, a Wolmaransstad woman was left nearly paralyzed during child birth.
A shortage of staff, equipment and emergency vehicles all contributed that she and her baby nearly died. The DA visited her at her home, but Masike later made these allegations off as absurd and distasteful.
After the DA saw emergency vehicles with odometer readings of 330 000km we came to the conclusion that it would be a pleasure to see the MEC get as exciting about his portfolio and the people of North West as he gets by buying expensive cars for himself. The purchase of his luxury R920 000-car has caused a stir as it was reportedly paid for with funds originally awarded to purchase medical vehicles and equipment. The DA believes that quality healthcare is crucial to the well-being and dignity of South Africans. Especially the children of this province deserve better.
According to the Committee on Morbidity and Mortality in Children (coMMic) in 2014 45.5% of children died while in health care (stet). Septicaemia, gastro and pneumonia seem to be the main contributors, while 40.8% of children’s deaths in North West were due to HIV related illnesses and 14.4% died in neo-natal care. We are concerned about the escala-ting costs of litigations brought against the North West Department of Health as reported by the MEC for Health during his budget speech.
This is money that can be utilized to better care for expecting mothers and after birth care. The deaths due to gastro and pneumonia can be minimized with continuous effort and development of our health system. Early detection of the HIV/AIDS virus can also help to increase children’s life expectancy. We are convinced that litigations against the Health Department are increasing as a direct result of deteriorating conditions under which health professionals are forced to provide medical care to an ever increasing number of patients.
Acute shortage of critically essential medical equipment and long hours of work by health practitioners can compromise the quality of medical care and thus lead to acts of medical negligence which ultimately exposes the Health Department to escalating costs of litigations.We call on the NWPG to increase the budget allocation for this vital department in order to avoid a decline of standards in medical care at public health facilities in the province.