The Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi called a Medico-Legal Summit on 9 and 10 March 2015 which we participated in as part of the Ministerial task team appointed to look into the rise of medical negligence claims against the healthcare sector.

The objective of the Summit, which was attended by interested stakeholders both in the public and private healthcare sector was to:

  • obtain and debate comments regarding the rise in medical negligence claims against both the public and private sector healthcare providers;
  • identify the key drivers of increased legal costs in these claims which according to the Minister are “crippling the healthcare sector”; and
  • make recommendations and propose solutions regarding the curbing of medical negligence claims without compromising the right to fair and just compensation.

In addressing the Summit, the Minister identified three broad outcomes to be achieved before the end of 2015. These are:

  • publication of the White Paper on the National Health Insurance (NHI) which according to the Minister is imminent;
  • finalisation of former Chief Justice Ngcobo’s Commission on healthcare and inquiry into medical costs in the private sector; and
  • Summit on medico-legal litigation on what the Minister considers to be an “explosion” of medical malpractice claims in South Africa.

The Minister will establish a mini-task team to consolidate the information and recommendations made from the six commissions with the view to procuring a report which will be used as a declaration on what the Ministerial decision is going to be regarding medical negligence litigation. The six commissions which we participated in are:

  • Patient Safety
  • Impact of medico-legal claims on health professionals and access to health/current trends on health specialities
  • The role of the Health Statutory Council – Medical Ethics
  • Management of medico-legal claims
  • Legal implications of court decisions on the provision of healthcare services
  • Access to justice

A few links to recent articles on the Summit:

Lawsuits blamed for medical crisis

Medical litigation crisis – Motsoaledi

Motsoaledi flays ‘pocket liners’

Prokureurs fynkam tot hospitale, sê minister

Cash scandal hits healthcare

Medical negligence: Lawyers slam Motsoaledi