Sunday, 21 April, 2024
HomeMPS ColumnSerious consequences of not paying HPCSA registration fees

Serious consequences of not paying HPCSA registration fees

Healthcare practitioners who fail to pay their annual HPCSA registration fees could find themselves in a potentially career-ending and financially devastating situation, writes Dr Yash Naidoo from Medical Protection Society.

He writes:

“What’s the worst that could happen if I simply don’t pay my HPCSA fees?”

That was a post on X by a healthcare practitioner to which I recently found myself responding.

The interaction made me think it would be a good opportunity to remind colleagues of the importance of paying – and especially the consequences of failing to pay – our yearly registration fees.

By now, we all would have received emails from the HPCSA notifying us that our annual registration fees are due and payable before 1 April 2024.

If you have not received the email, please check your junk/spam box and if it is not there, you should contact the HPCSA as soon as possible to ensure your correct details are on their system (see our previous article: Why it's important to update personal details with the HPCSA).

So what happens if we don’t pay? To answer that, we must turn to the law which governs our registration and practice – the Health Professions Act. The Act says the professional board may authorise the registrar to suspend the registration of any person who has failed to pay their prescribed annual fee by the due date.

The notice of suspension must be issued by the registrar and forwarded to the practitioner by certified mail, fax or electronic transmission to the address in the register (again, highlighting the importance of keeping one’s details up to date with the HPCSA).

As from the date of issue of this notice and receipt by the practitioner, that registration certificate is deemed suspended and the practitioner must immediately cease to practise, until the suspension is lifted.

If a practitioner fails to pay their annual fee within three months of the due date, the Act says that they may be removed from the register of practitioners.

Notice of the removal must be given by certified mail, and the registration certificate of the practitioner must be deemed to be cancelled and the practitioner no longer allowed to practise until his or her name is restored to the register.

The suspension may be revoked by the payment of any annual fee which was not paid, payment of a restoration fee, and any other penalties as may be prescribed. If the practitioner’s name was removed from the register, it may be restored to the register after application for restoration on a prescribed form, paying a prescribed fee, and complying with any other requirements determined by the relevant professional board.

The consequences of failing to pay the prescribed fee may be severe. The Act says registration is a prerequisite for practising a profession, and anyone who contravenes this may be liable, on conviction, to a fine or imprisonment of up to a year, or both.

But, apart from the regulatory and legal implications of failing to pay, there is another important consideration: professional indemnity.

Your professional indemnity organisation or insurer may require that you have an active registration at the time of any incident, to be eligible for indemnity or insurance.

If an adverse incident occurs during a period where you were suspended or worse, removed from the register, it is unlikely you will be able to request assistance with that matter.

The consequences could be financially devastating and even career-ending.

It is therefore crucial that practitioners pay their annual fees on time. Failure to do so, whether in protest or otherwise, is ill-advised. If you have any concerns about fees, it would be prudent to address these with your professional association or union collectively, instead of taking matters into your own hands and risking your career in the process.

Dr Yash Naidoo is a dento-legal consultant.

 

See more MPS columns from our MedicalBrief archives:

 

HPCSA amendments offer hope

 

How to navigate medico-legal matters in healthcare practice

 

How much risk are YOU willing to bear?

 

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