Pretoria - New year, same problems. This is according to medical experts assessing accident victims for the Road Accident Fund (RAF), who say that they are still waiting to be paid for their services.
Johannesburg neurosurgeon Dr Percy Miller said he was owed millions by the RAF for writing expert reports on road accident victims which he had submitted over the past few years.
“This is no small task and takes up a lot of time. It also often saves the RAF millions,” Miller said.
He said that experts such as him were often tasked by the RAF to access an accident victim who instituted a claim for compensation.
It often happened that the claims instituted were inflated by means of attributing some of the injuries to the accident. The task of experts such as Miller was to ascertain what the true cause of the injuries were.
According to Miller, he knows of at least two of his colleagues who were in the same boat as him, having waited for years to be paid.
“Between us, we are owed about R12 million by the RAF,” Miller told the Pretoria News.
He said while some medical experts were paid within a reasonable time, others like him and his colleagues were waiting in vain for the past few years to have their bills settled.
Asked what he perceived the problem was, Miller blamed administrative bungling on the part of the RAF.
William Maphutha, the spokesperson for the RAF, said the entity had every intention of paying service providers.
“There are payment processes applicable for all outstanding invoices. We are continuously engaging with all service providers to provide clarity on the payment management process to ensure compliance. This applies to all our service providers across the board without compromising any principles,” he said.
Maphutha added that they published and gazetted RAF medical tariffs for the financial year 2020/2021 “to alleviate exorbitant medical charges as experienced previously”.
Mariëtte Minnie-Botbijl, who handles accounts on behalf of a host of these experts, said it was a nightmare to obtain payment.
She attributed this to “incompetence” on the part of the RAF.
According to Minnie-Botbijl, the RAF could run smoothly, and payments could be made in time if its wheels ran smoothly.
She said administrative bungling, such as double payments, was probably costing the entity billions. “It is just a mess,” she said.
Maphutha said the RAF was enhancing its systems and implementing new processes to ensure effective claims administration processes.
“Verifications of claims is one of the measures in place to ascertain whether all claims submitted meet all required minimum information required to process a claim.”
Minnie-Botbijl was also worried about the RAF’s service level agreement with its panel of experts which had come to an end on December 14.
She said while the RAF had tendered for invites for new service providers on its web page, this was totally inadequate. According to her, it’s simply a “copy and paste” of the old contracts, which according to her, had plenty of flaws.
Maphutha said the contract had been extended by a further three months until March 14. He said experts needed to complete the online registration to be part of the new panel.
“System errors are being attended to and continuously monitored to ensure compliance. Experts were provided with contact details for queries regarding the tender and the online registration. Few queries have been noted and are being attended to,” he said. Minnie-Botbijl said the RAF was demanding outstanding medical reports from the previous panel of experts. “But why should they write and submit this if they haven't even been paid for their previous reports?”
She welcomed the Special Investigating Unit’s investigation into allegations of corruption and maladministration in the affairs of the RAF and said this was long overdue.
The unit would, among others, investigate the compensation or payments made by RAF to claimants or claimants’ agents.
It would also focus on payments made by RAF to service providers in a manner that was contrary to applicable legislation.