20 March 2012 - A health and human rights awareness campaign has been launched to place the spotlight on patients' and practitioner's rights and responsibilities in South Africa.
Launched by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) on Monday to coincide with Human Rights Month, the massive media awareness campaign aims to reach citizens and inform the public about their rights and responsibilities and what care they should expect from healthcare professionals.
Acting HPCSA Registrar and CEO Dr Kgosi Letlape said the campaign places emphasis on human rights, patient rights, practitioner and patient responsibilities and the quality of care provided by the country's healthcare practitioners.
"It regulates the professions in aspects pertaining to registration, education, training, the right to practice their profession and we have the oversight to ensure professional conduct and ethical behaviour, continuing professional development and upholding the highest standards of healthcare," said Letlape.
A total of 2403 complaints were lodged with the HPCSA from April 2011 to date, with increases in complaints relating to accounts and improper relations.
There are 200 391 healthcare practitioners registered with the HPCSA, although pharmacists, nurses, chiropractors, homoeopaths, dental technicians and healthcare institutions like hospitals and clinics are not registered with the council.
The Medical Protection Society has noted an increase of 132% in the cost of clinical negligence claims in South Africa, with the highest claim paid R24 million in 2011. The cost of negligence in the public sector is a concern for government, resulting in a task team being set up to investigate and consider possible solutions.
The national radio campaign will run during the week of Human Rights Day until April, where HPCSA intends to reach the broader population who are unaware of the role of the council and inform them of their rights and responsibilities.
The public can lodge a written complaint regarding any conduct by an HPCSA-registered professional that breaches standards, including unethical advertising, competency, over-servicing patients, charging fees, criminal convictions, insufficient patient care, improper relationships, racial discrimination, improper conduct or behaviour, breaches in confidentiality and poor treatment.
To be acted upon by HPCSA, your complaint must:
- State clearly that you wish to complain against a healthcare professional and that the HPCSA should investigate your complaint;
- Identify the healthcare professional against whom the complaint lodged, by including his/her surname, initials, practice address and practice registration number;
- Detail the nature of the complaint, including all relevant dates and facts as well as supporting documentation were available;
- Be signed by you, your legal representative or any other person lodging the complaint on your behalf; and
- Include full contact details for correspondence purposes (such as requesting additional information regarding your complaint).