Unregistered doctors will face the might of the law

Doctor Source: Google Images

The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) says it is doing all it can to stop unregistered doctors practising in the country.

Last week, the HPCSA Inspectorate Office, alongside the Hawks, arrested a locum doctor, Mwambay Amissi Kalekwa, who was not registered with the council, in Durban.

Unregistered professionals are in contravention of section 17(1)(a), section 33, section 34 and section 39 of the Health Professions Act 56 of 1974. Practising without registration is a criminal offence.

The council said it continued to implement its mandate of protecting the public and guiding the health professions, by ensuring that it clamped down on those practising without being registered.

HPCSA spokesperson Priscilla Sekhonyana said the Inspectorate Office found out about bogus practitioners through tip-offs from the community, or through random inspections.

Sekhonyana said, since the start of the year, “the HPCSA has received 301 complaints regarding bogus practitioners and 17 were from KwaZulu-Natal.”

Most bogus practitioners were general practitioners. Sekhonyana said bogus practitioners risked the lives of patients and the community at large.

“Practising while not registered with the HPCSA is a criminal offence. HPCSA does not have jurisdiction over those practitioners who have not registered with the HPCSA. Should a patient wish to lodge a complaint with the HPCSA, the patient will not be able to do so,” she said.

Sekhonyana said practitioners who needed locum doctors should check the status of practitioners they were considering on the HPCSA register. They could also call the council to confirm that the practitioner had the relevant documentation.

She said the council had plans to curb the problem of bogus practitioners. It had embarked on public awareness campaigns throughout the country and educated the public about bogus practitioners. These campaigns were also conducted on community radio stations.

Dr Angelique Coetzee, chairperson of the SA Medical Association, said there was nothing they could do to curb the practising of bogus doctors but to report such cases to the police for prosecution.

“Bogus doctors are not medically trained and cannot give medical advice. They can harm the patient, which might lead to loss of life,” Coetzee said of the dangers these “doctors” pose to patients.

In December, the Inspectorate Office, Medicines Control Council and police arrested an unregistered locum doctor at a surgery in Isipingo, north of Durban. The “doctor”, Musasa Ngoie, was practising although he was not registered with the council.