On 6 August 2012 the Health Professions Council of South Africa
(the HPCSA) issued a media release providing a window period to
allow for compliance with the Health Professions Act, No. 56 of
1974 (the Act) and applicable regulations, rules and policy
The HPCSA requires persons (including corporate entities), who are not registered medical practitioners with the HPCSA (non-registered persons), and who are employing medical practitioners to provide medical services to other persons, to unbundle their structures. Affected persons have been given until February 2013 to do this.
In terms of the HPCSA's Ethical Rules the employment of medical practitioners by non-registered persons is not permitted unless the HPCSA grants the non-registered person approval to employ medical practitioners. In our experience, it is unlikely that HPCSA will approve the employment of medical practitioners by non-registered persons unless under exceptional circumstances.
The employment of medical practitioners by non-registered persons without the approval or exemption by the HPCSA, will expose such medical practitioners to the risk of suspension and/ or deregistration. It also potentially exposes the non-registered persons employing de-registered medical practitioners to criminal and civil liability.
Accordingly, any non-registered person that is employing a medical practitioner without approval or exemption by the HPCSA is acting in contravention of the Act, rules, policies and guidelines and should review its structure.
The media release has far-reaching and costly implications for those enterprises providing medical services to their employees and/ or constituencies (including those employing medical practitioners to provide occupational healthcare services). Enterprises that may be affected include those involved in managed healthcare arrangements, preferred provider networks, as well as companies in the mining, construction and medical schemes industries.
If you require advice and/ or assistance assessing the implications of the media release, the Act or the HPCSA's rules, policies and guidelines for your organisation; or if you need to restructure your operations pursuant to the requirements of the HPCSA's rules, policies and guidelines, please contact Deirdre Venter or Zeenat Dasoo, who are currently advising their clients on these issues.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.