Staff at the Head Office of the Gauteng Health Department are sitting on the floor without desks, chairs and computers because the Sheriff of the Court has removed two truckloads of furniture to force payment of R6.2 million for medical negligence.
The Sheriff took the furniture on Thursday last week from four floors of the Bank of Lisbon building in inner city Johannesburg.
The writ of attachment lists the following items:
• 400 desks
• 600 chairs
• 400 computers
• 200 filing cabinets
• 50 printers
• 10 fridges
• 10 microwaves
• 3 lounge suites
The action was brought by O Joubert Attorneys, acting on behalf of a child who suffered brain damage when she was born at the Pholosong Hospital in December 2009.
The court ordered payment on 8 March this year, but the department has not paid, even though the attorney offered an agreement to pay in installments.
It is a terrible injustice that this case has dragged on for more than 7 years, with further suffering for the child and her family, and now the department delays further.
I am appalled that the department has yet again disregarded a court-ordered payment, which has led to attachment of furniture that is crippling the work of head office staff.
Delays in payment also add to the costs as 10.5% penalty interest is charged – in this case, this amounts to more than R300 000.
The Gauteng Provincial Government is being destabilized by the endless financial woes of the Health Department, which faces a potential medico-legal liability of more than R13 billion and owes large sums to suppliers as well.
Premier David Makhura has to step in and ensure that the department can meet its pressing financial obligations and plan a way forward to provide quality health care with minimal negligence claims.