Countering a wide range of allegations of corruption levelled at it by a whistle-blower, the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) said action was being taken by the organisation to stamp out graft. The Citizen quotes to HPCSA spokesperson Daphney Chuma as saying that the organisation implemented the recommendations of a ministerial task team appointed by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi into alleged maladministration, irregularities, mismanagement and poor governance at the organisation four years ago.
These included the overhaul of information technology, data records and management systems.
On nepotism, Chuma said the HPCSA policy did not discriminate against people wishing to work for the organisation, despite their relatives already in the employ of the body. She explained: “Nepotism refers to favouritism shown to relatives or close friends by those with power or influence. In these cases, there is no proof of alleged nepotism.
“Yes, it is true that some people in the HPCSA are related. However, one needs to ask if these people had any influence in the appointment of those that they are related to.”
The report says on what action the HPCSA would take against officials alleged to have received payments of bribes to speed up registration of certain applicants, she said: “You will appreciate that it will be difficult to discuss cases such as these with the media until the matters have been finalised.”
On allegations of board members preferring to fly from other provinces to attend meetings, instead of making use of “an in-expensive Skype” system of communication, Chuma responded: “Some of the committees of council and boards conduct their meetings via Skype.
“However, not all meetings of council and boards can successfully run on Skype due to connectivity challenges that members may face, depending on their locations and when they connect for the meeting.
“The issue of connectivity and bandwidth access is a national issue, which unfortunately the HPCSA has minimal or no influence on.
“Regarding access, usage and connectivity, boards and council have made provision for both Skype and physical meetings.
“Actual spend is monitored closely per board against budgeted costs to ensure keeping to budgeted expenditure.”
The report says she also denied allegations that the HPCSA faced a registration backlog, saying cases were “processed within 10 working days”. “One of the key areas in the HPCSA turnaround strategy is management and handling of complaints against healthcare practitioners registered with council.”
The report says among an array of allegations brought to the attention by the whistle-blower are: officials took bribes from doctors to speed up the registration process of selected applicants; the HPCSA spent millions in flights for board members to attend meetings in Tshwane, despite the organisation’s information technology department having procured “an expensive Skype system” meant to cut costs; the HPCSA faced a huge backlog in registering doctors, which its legal department has failed to clear; and nepotism was rife at the HPCSA: a staffer worked with his wife at the finance department and their mother worked in the kitchen as “tea maker”. Another woman worked as committee coordinator while her daughter worked at the call centre.The Citizen report