How to tell if your doctor’s a quack

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Dishonest practices always come to light, and this is precisely what is happening to fake doctors in South Africa.

Recently we’ve seen several bogus doctors exposed for running unlicensed practices and operating under false pretences.

Expired registration

The latest case saw the Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA) along with the Medicines Control Council (MCC) and police take down a doctor for operating a practice which wasn’t in his name and for not having a valid licence.

The HPCSA’s Communications Manager, Priscilla Sekhonyana, told Health24 that the council received a tip-off from people in the community, along with a registered practitioner who prefers to remain anonymous.

The Council released a statement saying that they inspected the practices of Dr Tshepo Stanley Maebane in Ga-Rankuwa, in Tshwane, but found a Mr Rasheed Ayoade Albi practising at the premises.

Dr Maebane is said to have his practice in neighbouring province – Limpopo – which is a few hours’ drive from Ga-Rankuwa.

A criminal offence

Albi was registered with the council in 1997, but as an intern and the registration had expired almost 18 years ago, in 1999.

He was subsequently taken into custody by the Ga-Rankuwa police and charged with contravening the Health Professions Act (Act 56 of 1974) for practising illegally.

Sekhonyana said: “The act states that registration with the council is a prerequisite for practising as a health practitioner.

“Practising whilst not registered is a criminal offence and when one is found working as a bogus practitioner, a criminal case is opened with the police for further investigation and prosecution by the court.”

How to tell if your doctor is the real deal

Sekhonyana added the public should be able to verify that their practitioner isn’t operating under false pretences because they should have a valid registration number on a certificate issued by the council.

“Upon registration, a practitioner is issued a registration certificate with a registration number which identifies the practitioner, and every year a practitioner is issued with a practicing card which is only valid for one year.

“Patients have the right to request that the practitioner show them these documents before any treatment. They can also check on the council’s website to verify the registration status of a practitioner using his or her names or registration number. They can also call the council’s call centre to verify the practitioner’s legitimacy,” said Sekhonyana.

To serve and protect

One of the council’s most important tasks is to protect the public, and in doing this they have established inspectorate offices.

Sekhonyana said that amongst others, the role of the inspectorate office is to ensure practitioners comply with the provisions of the Act, along with the rules and regulations governing practitioners.

“These offices were established in 2015, hence a number of bogus practitioners are only being discovered now, after they may have been operating for a number of years already.

“The inspectorate offices rely on tip-offs from the public and these offices conduct continuous investigations. Offices have been established in Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth,” adds Sekhonyana.

While the council has stepped up their game with regards to nabbing bogus practitioners, they rely on the public for their help in reporting fake doctors.

The public can query or report a practitioner by using the council’s website, contacting their call centre on (012) 338 9301 or writing a letter to the council.

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