The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) was on the receiving end of an “unprecedented” landmark court ruling recently after a class action lawsuit instituted by 94 foreign-trained SA doctors who had been blocked from integration into the local medical fraternity.
The doctors are affiliated with the South African Internationally Trained Health Professionals’ Association, the organisation that led their fight for re-integration into the local health system.
Judge Brenda Neukircher handed down judgment in the matter in the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) two weeks ago, which the council and its medical and dental professional board and the Minister of Health were respondents, reports the Sunday Tribune.
She ordered that the requirement that candidates repeat the entire process of writing board exams should they fail the practical component be reviewed and set aside.
That ruling should become effective immediately for all applicants who had been asked to write their theory papers this month, and the respondents were ordered to honour the Public Protector’s decision to make available information requested by applicants in this matter and others who make similar requests in future.
They were also instructed to enrol all 94 applicants in this matter for their respective theory or practical exams.
Advocate Rene Govender, the foreign-trained doctors’ association’s legal desk chairperson, said the ruling was “unprecedented”.
“We have tackled various hindrances delaying our members attempting the board examinations, and the court has ruled in our favour on all issues.
“It is unfortunate the success of the action has been marred by the (council’s) refusal to provide our members with copies of their examination assessment records, according to the order.”
Govender said they would proceed with contempt proceedings.
According to the applicants, some of the council’s rules and regulations were stumbling blocks to their registration as medical practitioners in South Africa.
After registering with the council and its medical and dental professional board, they were required to pass a board exam for eligibility to secure internships at medical facilities and complete their community service before they could practice medicine.
The foreign-trained doctors’ association had previously raised these matters with the Office of the Public Protector.
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