The Gauteng Health Department has paid over R500-million for medical negligence cases since January last year.

This was contained in the Health MEC’s reply to a question that the Democratic Alliance’s Jack Bloom raised in the provincial legislature.

The department confirmed the amount, but says it is working on an alternative method of payment that would avoid dipping into funds allocated for patient care.

Bloom says it’s unclear whether any disciplinary action has been taken against the concerned staff members.

“I’ve also been told that the number of medical aid claims outstanding is about 1600 and the total claimed is an astounding 22 billion – this is nearly half the Gauteng health budget of R46 billion and I’m very concerned because every year it just gets higher and higher, every year the department pays out more and more. It seems that the health system is not sufficiently improved to stop further medical negligence so it’s a terrible cycle.”