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DA Advocates for Responsibility in the Wake of Rising Medical Negligence Cases

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

The call for accountability in the healthcare department of Mpumalanga resounds clear, as Jane Sithole, health spokesperson for the Democratic Alliance (DA), emphasizes the need for government doctors to be personally responsible for incidents of medical negligence. Sithole's stance is underpinned by the recent rising claims predominantly related to children birthed with cerebral complications and factors that show an alarming decline in the province's institutional maternal mortality.

Mpumalanga, plagued by a distinct dearth in healthcare resources such as professional doctors, pharmacy assistants, registered nurses, and auxiliary staff, attributes the rise in medical mistakes to exhausting working conditions. These unintended errors, often resulting in lawsuits and out-of-court settlements, put considerable financial pressure on the department.

A study conducted by Titshidze, a community monitoring organization, asserts the aggravation of human resource shortages within Mpumalanga's health centres over the previous year. The report yielded the disheartening fact that a mere 35% out of the monitored 43 health facilities claimed to have sufficient clinical and non-clinical staff - a regression from 41% of adequately staffed facilities in 2022.

Other concerning findings from the research include the 144 primary healthcare facilities operating without a visiting doctor and over 200 clinics bereft of backup power generators, evidence of the strain under which the Mpumalanga health department functions.

In discussing the fiscal implications of these negligence cases, Sithole expressed that these ranged from burdensome amounts - between R11 000 to a staggering R19 million per case. She underlined how the department must step up in this situation, carry out thorough investigations into these instances, and hold erring healthcare professionals accountable.

Sithole also revealed that, despite 13 department employees currently on suspension with full salary, none of these suspensions involve healthcare professionals implicated in negligence or malpractice. This observation accentuates a pronounced reluctance from MEC Sasekani Manzini and her administration to hold these practitioners accountable.

Closing her statements, Sithole acknowledged the immense pressure under which healthcare professionals operate. However, she insisted that due diligence must surveil every step in these critical roles. To counteract the poor state of health facilities, Sithole suggests that the large sums spent on negligence claims could be allocated more effectively in promoting the overall health service condition.

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