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By Alex Japho Matlala


R14bn Limpopo health dept bill to be paid with cash meant for meds

The poor will now bare the brunt of the department's medico-legal contingency liabilities billions.

The Limpopo department of health plans to take money for purchasing medicines for clinics, health centres and hospitals to settle the R14 billion medico-legal contingency liabilities incurred by the department since 2015.

Contingent liabilities may be incurred by an entity depending on the outcome of an uncertain future event such as the outcome of a pending lawsuit.

The department came under siege this year after it was grilled during its appearance before the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) in the Limpopo Provincial Legislature over the controversial medico-legal contingency liabilities bill.

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This was after Scopa chair Rodgers Monama ordered the department to develop a turnaround strategy to prevent the bill from escalating.

During her budget vote speech on Tuesday, health MEC Phophi Ramathuba said: “While the rise of medical malpractice litigation is a global crisis, as a province, we are worried by the current contingent liability standing at a staggering R14 billion.

“We did a root cause analyses, which includes, among others, lack of adequate staff and equipment, poor attitude and inadequate skills.

“But we cannot rule out possible collusion between government employees, be it state attorneys or department of health with the plaintiff lawyers and senior counsels,” she said.

Ramathuba also said a turnaround strategy was developed and implemented.

The unit, she said, was now led by a medical specialist who was also an advocate.

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“It’s is high time that we look at legislative reform that will see us closing this tap because in this budget I am tabling today, there is no item that talks to the R14 billion.

“This means we must take money meant for patient medicine to settle the bill,” said the MEC.

But Monama said Scopa was worried that the majority of Limpopo’s populace were poor and depended on free medication from government.

“If money meant for patient medicine is taken to pay off the bill, this may negatively affect the health of the poor of Limpopo,” he said.

The department noted that the MEC was not saying she would literally use money for medicine, she was illustrating the impact of medico-legal contingency liability.

Contingent liabilities were not budgeted for and so negatively affected service delivery.

NOW READ: Limpopo health dept’s ‘dire’ finances just getting worse

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