In the past four years, the National Department of Health has coughed up R23.6bn following medico-legal claims across the country, while in the Western Cape 270 claims have been paid with a whopping R501m price tag and R34m for legal costs.

Weekend Argus report says this is just the tip of the iceberg as medico-legal battles continue at the SCA and Western Cape High Court involving mass claims of gross negligence, misdiagnosis and specifically cases relating to obstetrics and gynaecology, where infants were left with cerebral palsy and women with medical complications and conditions after birth.

Michele Clarke, DA health spokesperson, reacted to the R23.6bn that had been paid following medico-legal claims.

‘This figure is staggering, especially considering the widespread shortages of healthcare funding across our provinces.’

In the Western Cape, Dwayne Evans of the provincial Health Department revealed that between January 2020 and December 2023, 267 claims had been filed and 124 were settled with a final court order. Evans said via documentation provided that legal costs amounted to R34m while claims totalled R501m. Records show of 3 522 claims filed nationally, Limpopo had 903 claims and KZN 779.

Worryingly, statistics from the Eastern Cape were not available but officials say it often has the most medico-legal claims.

KZN paid out the most at R8.67bn, the Free State R2.48bn and Gauteng R1.89bn.

In terms of legal costs per province, Gauteng spent R634m, followed by KZN at R328m and Mpumalanga R224m.

Full Weekend Argus report