The minister of health, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, and his department do not have any information available about the number of people who die in South Africa’s state hospitals as a result of negligence, and actually have no idea what the extent is of negligence in the country’s state hospitals, Adv. Anton Alberts, FF Plus’ spokesperson on Health, says.
Adv. Alberts says this shocking state of affairs came to light in a reply to a parliamentary question about the issue. (Full question and reply attached).
He said what makes the situation even worse is the fact that even after the national outrage about the deaths of more than 100 psychiatric patients, there is still no attempt on the side of the minister or the department to put a system in place to monitor the negligence in state hospitals.
The main questions were how many people have died since 2009 due to the negligence of medical and other personnel in state hospitals, in which hospitals these deaths occurred and what the nature of the negligence had been.
To this and other questions, the response was merely that these incidents would have resulted in disciplinary and legal action, and that the information should be enquired from the authorities who deal with it.
“It is absolutely shocking that the minister acknowledges that he has no idea how many people die in state hospitals due to negligence. It is simply impossible to be in the dark about such a serious matter.
The department is now only busy trying to find the information, as a result of my question. The department should surely know how many claims for negligence had been settled by the department? But clearly, it does not know either.
“It is amazing that the department of health now has to find answers from the department of Justice as to what is happening in its own hospitals. How can the department improve its service delivery if it does not know how big the problem of negligence in hospitals is?
“It is clear that the department is being blindly managed into the abyss. Without any information, you cannot make any management adjustments.
“It is no wonder that so many people die in state hospitals and under the supervision of the department and provincial departments. And tragically nobody knows what the true extent of the problem is,” Adv. Alberts said.
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FOR WRITTEN REPLY
QUESTION NO. 2679
DATE OF PUBLICATION IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER: 02 DECEMBER 2016
(INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO. 42)
Adv A de W Alberts (FF Plus) to ask the Minister of Health:†
(1) (a) How many persons in each year since 2009 died due to negligence by medical and other personnel of state hospitals, (b) in which hospital did each death from such negligence occur and (c)(i) which form of negligence resulted in the deaths and (ii) how many deaths resulted from such negligence;
(2) which measures have been put in place or will be put in place to eliminate such deaths;
(3) (a)(i) how many and (ii) what type of cases of negligence have been reported to the health ombud since it came into existence, (b) how many of the different type of charges were resolved and resolved in total and (c) how does the (i) national mortality rate since 2009 and (ii) number of deaths that have occurred nationally and were reported to the health ombud, compare to internationally accepted standards as prescribed by the World Health Organisation and/or other legitimate health organisations?
(1) (a) Honourable Member, the question of whether a person died from negligence by medical and other personnel in a hospital, whether state or private, is not a medical diagnosis. It is a conclusion that can only be reached as a result of a court hearing or a hearing by the various statutory bodies like the Health Professions Council, the Nursing Council, the Pharmacy Council or the Allied Health Professions Council.
Hence we will have to peruse court records with the Department of Justice to clinch such information.
We will also have to peruse the rulings of the various statutory councils.
We will then be in a position to provide you with figures.
(b) and (c) The information so clinched as stated above will answer these two questions. Hence we will have to wait for that information first.
(2) Every hospital, clinic, health facility and health worker use special protocols and practices to avoid death as much as possible.
(3) The Health Ombuds, since starting work six months ago, has not yet reported on any case. This week the Office announced that it will issue the first report on the 18th of January 2017. Honourable Member has to be patient to wait for that.