The SA Department of Labour is working on the Compensation Fund claims backlog for diseases and injuries in 2013, and appointing a Financial Officer.
They are working on the long-standing ‘albatross’ of piling medical claims, said Compensation Commissioner Shadrack Mkhonto in Cape Town in July. He and DOL director-general Nkosinathi Nhleko and a team of senior managers in the department responded to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Labour queries.
The politicians wanted to know what has been done to rectify late payments of hospital groups, which resulted in medical staff threatening to withdraw services, and how other issues afflicting the Fund have been dealt with.
From January to mid July 2013 the Compensation Fund had processed and paid a total of R325.5m to private hospitals and R6.7m to public hospitals.
The Compensation Fund has decentralised payment of medical accounts to provincial offices, and medical accounts are processed and paid there. The Fund recently undertook a project on registration and adjudication of claims which resulted in payment of hospital accounts.
New IT supplier at Compensation Fund
Mkhonto told the Committee that EOH, an information technology service provider to the department, and the Fund had been able to put in place a project to clear the backlog. “We are now comfortably on track to pay medical accounts,” Mkhonto said.
The Fund had also been in constant engagement with Business Unity South Africa and the SA Medical Association on how it is dealing with the backlog. “We have learnt lessons. Our intention is not to sustain such a backlog in the future. The emphasis in future will be on workers. No worker must stay longer without getting treatment,” Mkhonto said.
The Return on Earnings (RoE), a web-based facility to allow employers to file annual returns that was started in March 2013 and was beginning to yield results. The CF in the period 2013/14 from April to June had collected R4.7b compared with R3.8b and R5.7b collected in the 2011/12 and 2012/13 financial years respectively.
Compensation errors from manual processing
Mkhonto told the Portfolio Committee on Labour that after glitches in the system caused by manual processing, the CF had decided to go back to the drawing board to pilot the Rand Mutual Assurance system. Mkhonto said the Rand Mutual system was a “tried and tested” system used in mining.
Nhleko said the department had taken time to reflect and noted concerns raised by stakeholders. To prevent regress and lapses, the department would contract a new information technology service provider.
Nhleko said the department had started building the required internal expertise to manage its own IT environment, and would eventually settle for a hybrid IT model.
Portfolio Committee on Labour chairman Eleck Nchabeleng cautioned that service delivery failure cannot be tolerated, and called for speedy action to address backlogs.
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