The South African Society of Anaesthesiologists (SASA), Federation of South African Surgeons (FoSAS), the Association of Surgeons of South Africa (ASSA) and the South African Dental Association (SADA), have all joined together to note with concern the intention of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) to conduct its own internal inquiry into complaints lodged against it, effectively ignoring the findings of a ministerial task team.
Because of the serious nature of the allegations, the minister recommended an independent investigation, rather than the HPCSA setting up an internal committee to investigate the complaints against it. The six-month investigation was concluded with a 90-page report outlining its major findings.
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“The task team’s findings have been the result of a long and thorough process, and the HPCSA’s reaction to them will only delay the implementation of those findings, which will impact on patients and other health professional bodies, such as ours,” says SASA CEO Natalie Zimmelman.
The professional bodies urge the HPCSA to reconsider launching its own internal inquiry and rather focus on and study the findings of the ministerial task team, with the aim of implementing these recommendations. While the HPCSA insists that its operations have not been disrupted by the investigations, the delay in working to turn the organisation around has a knock-on effect on all South Africans, especially patients and healthcare practitioners.
“The starting point of implementation would be the appointment of an interim executive management team to address the dysfunctional areas of the HPCSA that have been identified,” says FoSAS Chairman, Dr Philip Matley.
SADA CEO, Maretha Smit, adds: “While the HPCSA insists that it is operating normally, feedback from healthcare professionals indicates that it is anything but. This needs to be resolved urgently.”
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SASA, FoSAS, ASSA and SADA urge the council and board of the HPCSA, which are responsible for oversight of the regulatory body, to take the necessary action. They need to act to protect the regulatory body and its main functions in working with 12 professional boards of healthcare professionals – including the Medical and Dental Board (to which all SASA, ASSA, FoSAS and SADA members belong) – as well as ensure that the HPCSA leads by example in setting and maintaining standards of ethical and professional practice.
“We would like to urge Minister Motsoaledi, the council and all the professional boards to demonstrate decisive and speedy action in protecting the public and the medical profession by ensuring that the task team’s tireless efforts and recommendations are considered and implemented,” says ASSA Chairman, Dr Mike Klipin.
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