While “some of the claims may be frivolous or not stand up to scrutiny”‚ the Democratic Alliance’s Jack Bloom said it is of “great concern” that legal claims against the Gauteng Health Department “have soared”.

Bloom said that‚ according to the latest Annual Report‚ which was tabled in the Gauteng legislature last Friday‚ claims have climbed from “R8.9-billion to R13.1-billion from April 1‚ 2014 to March 31‚ 2015”.

The total amount comprises:

– Medico-legal claims went “from R6.566-billion to R10.1-billion”’

– Civil claims “went up from R855-million to R1.502-billion; and

– Claims “from the premature termination of contracts remain at R1.508-billion”.

Bloom said that the civil claims figure includes “R1.263-billion owing to the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS)” which “is listed as a contingent liability as the investigation into NHLS billing irregularities is still ongoing‚ and it may be offset by a possible NHLS debt to the department of R1.6-billion.

“It is important to note that the enormous R10.1-billion medico-legal claim arising from alleged medical negligence is a maximum potential liability that is unlikely to be ordered by the courts‚” said Bloom.

“Some of the claims may be frivolous or not stand up to scrutiny. Nevertheless‚ the huge jump in the past year is of great concern.

“The department has been paying on average about R200-million every year for medical negligence in terms of court settlements.”