SA health body is sick

06 November 2015 - 02:34 By Katharine Child

The Health Professions Council of SA, which is supposed to register and monitor the behaviour of the country's medical professionals, is itself "dysfunctional" and in a state of "chronic failure". As a result it has been recommended that the CEO, Buyiswa Mjamba-Matshoba, chief operating officer Tshepo Boikanyo, and head of legal affairs Phelelani Khumalo be suspended.This is according to a summary of a 90-page report produced following an investigation into the HPCSA after the health minister appointed a team headed by the dean of the health faculty at UCT, Bongani Mayosi, to investigate the council after 30 letters by staff and whistle-blowers were received.The team was charged with investigating:Governance;Procurement procedures;Allegations of maladministration;The fitness of the CEO and COO to run the office;The registration of foreign doctors; andThe handling of inquiries into the conduct of medical professionals.Doctors have long complained that the HPCSA does not register new professionals quickly enough and allows investigations into doctors and therapists to drag on for years.The investigation was set down for 60 days but took six months due to the volume of work.The investigation found that Mjamba-Matshoba, Boikanyo and Khumalo were not fit to run the body and recommended that disciplinary action be implemented.All three refused to meet and answer questions from investigators, which "amounted to a possible act of insubordination".Boikanyo was implicated in awarding a tender worth R30-million without following procedure .In 2011 a KPMG report into tender irregularities recommended disciplinary action against him, instead he was promoted to COO.The task team also found the HPCSA did not fulfil its "statutory mandate" to assess foreign doctors' qualifications and register them to work in the country timeously.There have been cases of foreign doctors being barred from working in South Africa, according to lawyer Charren Marcus.The team suggested that the HPCSA be split into two entities - a body that served doctors and dentists and a separate organisation that served therapists such as physiotherapists.A question policyBritish gynaecologist Mark Stevens took the Health Professions Council of SA to court because its policy prevented him from working in private practice.He has a South African partner and wants to work in the country.Stevens said council policy, which prevents foreigners from working in the private sector, contradicted the Health Professions Act. A judge ordered Stevens to resubmit his qualification and told the council to reassess his request.It will also not register Kenyan doctor Michael Rubeiro, a plastic surgeon, because it does not recognise his undergraduate degree.

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