FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -Working Together to Solve the Medico-Legal Crisis in South Africa
In an unprecedented initiative to highlight South Africa’s current medico-legal crisis and consequences, the South African Medico-Legal Association (SAMLA) provided a platform for more than 40 experts, concerned and senior professionals to address State President Cyril Ramaphosa “frankly and constructively” on pressing medico-legal issues at a conference centre in Johannesburg on 5 May 2019.
Due to campaign commitments, the president was unable to attend but the Director-General of the National Department of Health, Dr Malebona Precious Matsoso, was in attendance along with various medical and legal professionals from around the country.
Proceedings included no less than 30 three-minute presentations on specific issues of concern, 4 expanded oral submissions of twenty minutes, a panel discussion on funding and care for cerebral palsy and others living with disabilities, and culminating in a debate and ultimate resolution on the establishment of an independent multidisciplinary medico-legal authority with codes of professional conduct and disciplinary procedures. All presentations were video recorded for submission to the president’s office together with supporting written submissions.
In its invitation to the president, SAMLA noted: “In the spirit of Thuma Mina we, a group of concerned South Africans and Professional Organizations, offer our collective expertise and goodwill to advise you on the medico-legal crisis in our country.”
“Being acutely aware of the human suffering, loss of economic productivity and multi-billion Rand financial losses (which are inflated by negligence, maladministration, unprofessional conduct and corruption), we propose to address you frankly and constructively on the following:
Road Accidents and compensation for Personal Injuries
- Motor vehicle crashes and deaths on South African Roads
- The RAF – Litigation practices that overburden our Court of Law
- RAF4 Determination of serious injuries, HPCSA appeal tribunals
- The RABS Bill -Cost implications and infringement of the rights of vulnerable members of society (particularly children, impoverished, illiterate and brain injured adults
Clinical Negligence and Compensation for Consequent Harm
- Clinical negligence by healthcare practitioners
- The scourge of Cerebral Palsy
- The South African Medico-Legal Coalition – focus on constructive upstream (prevention) and downstream (resolution) interventions
General recommendations that were discussed and given by these professionals
- The substantial body of knowledge and goodwill that has been side-lined by government over the years
- Access to justice and access to courts
- Mediation of clinical negligence and personal injury disputes
- Arbitration of clinical negligence and personal injury disputes
- The State of Liability Amendment Bill
- Establishment of Centres of Excellence for care of Cerebral Palsy children
- Case management for Cerebral Palsy and other disabilities
- Postgraduate training of Medico-Legal practitioners
- The establishment of a South African Medico-Legal Data Institute
- The establishment of specialized medical courts
- The establishment of an independent multidisciplinary Medico-Legal Regulatory Authority”
Presiding over yesterday’s proceedings were Judge Neels Claassen, retired judge, mediator and SAMLA National Chairperson, and Dr Herman Edeling, neurosurgeon, expert witness, mediator, and Director of clinical negligence, mediation and faculty leader of SAMLA.
Golden threads shining throughout the presentations included ethics, training, governance and accountability.
SAMLA is an independent, neutral, educational and transparent organization not for profit, funded by membership contributions, donations and funds generated through seminars. It is an organization led by Judge Neels Claassen and a passionate and capable Board of more than 20 Directors. It has branches in most of the major centres and provinces in South Africa.
Speaking – Dr Brad Beira (Convener of the SAMLA Submissions to the President Committee)
Seated (lefthand side):
– Judge Neels Claassen ( Retired Judge, Mediator and Chairperson of the South African Medico-Legal Association)
– Dr Herman Edeling (Neurosurgeon, Expert Witness,Mediator, Director (Clinical Negligence, Mediation) and Faculty Leader of the South African Medico-Legal Association – Convener of Meeting)
Seated (righthand side):
– Dr/Adv Anton Van Den Bout (Orthopaedic Surgeon, Advocate and Founder of the South African Medico-Legal (Society) Association)