Foreign-trained doctors' court action over HPCSA board exam

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Doctors who studied overseas and who are allegedly being prevented from writing an exam that would allow them to practise, have turned to the courts in the hope of getting an order to allow them to take the Health Professionals Council of SA (HPCSA) board exam, which would qualify them for internships at public hospitals.

In papers filed in the Gauteng High Court, 38 foreign-trained doctors allege that the HPCSA gave an assurance more than once that they would be able to take the exam, only to later renege on the basis that the medical schools they studied at – in Romania, China and Guyana – are not “recognised” by the HPCSA.

A report in The Witness says the organisation representing the doctors, the South African Internationally Trained Health Professionals Association (Saithpa), has also written a memorandum to the Presidency and the Ministry of Health to ask them to investigate allegations of corruption, racism and victimisation faced by foreign-trained doctors.

Saithpa claims that at least 175 foreign-trained doctors are without work because of various obstacles the HPCSA has allegedly put in their way. The HPCSA has not responded to the allegations in court. However, interviews News24 has done with affected doctors, who are part of the court case, as well as academics involved in internship programmes, suggest the number could be higher.

The memorandum to the Presidency also contains allegations that doctors who wrote a board exam in January are still waiting for their results.

The HPCSA has not responded to the allegations.

Full report in The Witness (subscription needed)

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