In what The Herald says is an unusual move, five judges of the SCA have asked Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize to intervene and urgently address the dire situation in the Eastern Cape’s public hospitals.

The court also asked for their remarks to be brought to the attention of Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba. In a hard-hitting judgment, the court said patients using public health facilities in the province were receiving sub-standard care.

Acting Judge Trevor Gorven added to his majority judgment in a negligence case that they also wanted to comment on the prevalence of negligence cases against the Eastern Cape Department of Health, and to urge the authorities to fix the health system. ‘It is appropriate to say something about the prevalence of matters such as these.

Far too often this court is confronted with serious and serial negligence in hospitals falling under the Eastern Cape MEC of Health. Whether or not the negligence can be said to have caused harm in the delictual sense, it is clear studied neglect of standards has become pervasive in many such hospitals.

Those reliant upon their services are receiving sub-standard care,’ Gorven said. The comments were made after the department fended off an appeal in a multimillion-rand lawsuit for a baby who suffered brain damage during birth.

Gorven said in the light of their concerns over the situation in public health in the Eastern Cape, they had decided to make the department pay its own legal costs.

Full report in The Herald (subscription needed)

AN v MEC for Health, Eastern Cape