Medical experts in RAF revolt over being 'owed R150m'
Road Accident Fund blames 'unauthorised' invoicing for expert evidence
More than 100 medical experts have joined a campaign against the Road Accident Fund (RAF), saying they are owed about R150m.
The professionals, who have submitted expert evidence to be used in cases where people claim to have been seriously injured in road accidents, are demanding either to be paid for their reports or have the reports thrown out by the courts as intellectual property that does not belong to the RAF.
The RAF, on the other hand, believes the reports were improperly commissioned and done without proper authorisation.
Mariëtte Minnie, director of MMB Made Easy, is leading the charge. At this stage, she says, the group she represents is not planning on going to court, but want to campaign for fair payment for reports that have been, or are going to be, used in court.
The group has written to incoming chief justice Raymond Zondo, asking him for permission to withdraw their completed opinions that have not yet been used in court.
As they wait for a response they have also laid complaints with the SA Human Rights Commission, minister of transport and the public protector.
Minnie said the complainants are medico-legal experts who have examined and reported on claimants with cases lodged against the fund. Each case involved a doctor or psychologist examining the claimant, some of whom had brain injuries.
The tests took several hours and had to be conducted in the claimant’s home language, meaning an interpreter was required. Child complainants had to be given a meal before undergoing the examination to ensure the results were accurate and a psychometric expert evaluated and analysed the results. The expert also had to examine the person’s medical, school or employment records.
The final report was compiled by the medical expert and submitted to the RAF on a standard pay scale which regulated payment at about R10,000 a case.
The problem started three years ago with confusion over the RAF’s board of lawyers having insufficient medico-legal experts on record, and a directive was issued allowing them to contract experts not on the authorised RAF list.
Minnie said the experts were aggrieved because the RAF has imposed penalties on the “unauthorised” reports to reduce the payments or has declined to pay for them.
RAF CEO Collins Letsoalo said the situation should be attributed to “the negligence of the former panel of attorneys who were aware of the provisions of the service level agreement but decided to act in contravention thereof”.
The RAF was therefore not liable to pay full price for work that had been improperly commissioned.
Minnie said the experts disputed this and the agreement he referred to was signed in 2014, but a later directive, dated August 12 2015, allowed lawyers to use experts not listed on the RAF list.
The RAF initially contracted 82 service providers, but in 2015 lawyers were permitted to use non-contracted service providers in cases where the contract panel was unable to supply the evidence report timeously.
Minnie believes there are about 400 experts wanting to be paid by the RAF and she represents about 100 of them.
Minnie said her complainants “want to be paid because they don’t have time and money to waste on what could be a long and drawn out court battle”.
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