HPCSA backs down on board exams for overseas-qualified doctors

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In the face of legal action, the Health Professions Council of SA has agreed not to limit the number of overseas-qualified doctors allowed to write board exams each year.

A group of 77 South African doctors who qualified overseas but wanted to practise locally have won a battle to write their board exams, the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) is quoted in a News24 report as saying.

Medical professionals who want to practise first have to pass the exam convened by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

“Our clients complained of prejudice in that they were forced to wait months and in some cases, even years before they were permitted to write the board examination,” the centre said.

The report says after intervening, the LRC was told that the HPCSA imposed a limit of 120 graduates who could write the board exam at any one of its two scheduled sittings a year. The limit appeared to be because the venue could only hold so many people at one time.

“The LRC view was that the imposition of the limit on the number of graduates was arbitrary and inconsistent with the Health Professions Act as well as the lack of qualified medical professionals in our stressed public health service,” the centre said.

After extensive communication, the LRC said in the report that it would approach the courts if the HPCSA did not permit all graduates who satisfied the minimum requirements to write the exams. The HPCSA acceded and the graduates are expected to write their exams at the next sitting in October/November.

“The HPCSA also confirmed the convening of an additional sitting of the board examination to ensure all compliant graduates are afforded the opportunity to write and has notified each medical graduate of the date on which he or she will be sitting the board examination.”

The report says the LRC welcomed the settlement of the dispute and thanked the HPCSA.

News24 report

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