The NHCPA notes with disappointment how this matter has been handled. Whilst we support the need for a civil and criminal procedure in cases such as this, we believe that proper protocol and legal processes must be followed in all such matters.
Concerning this matter, we express our support to the families affected by this and we recognize their need for justice and civil remedy for the sufferings they may have incurred. Medical practitioners must at all-time practice with the greatest of care and within the guidelines provided by our regulatory bodies. In a country fraught with health inequalities, we must insist that our professionals always adhere to patient-centered care.
The NHCPA does not support the sensationalizing of this case by the media. Allowing for political and external influences will further compromise the rights of both the patients and the practitioners. Every citizen in this country is constitutionally guaranteed access to fair and proper judicial processes and we categorically object to these practitioners drawn into public trial without the proper conclusion of any preliminary investigation by the HPCSA or any other body.
The HPCSA review of the matters and history of this case has begun and until the outcome of such audit, it would be premature to persecute either of the doctors identified in the case. The NHPCA stands by the constitution which allows for a fair investigation. The warrant of arrest that has been issued under the charge of culpable homicide is, in our opinion, highly irregular and premature. This sets an uninformed precedent and will be used as a guideline in any future case involving medical negligence. This must be prevented as is allows it placed undue stress on all medical practitioners who risk their reputation and livelihood attending to the often high-risk populations.
There is insufficient evidence to suggest that these practitioners are a potential flight risk and remanding them into custody will not expedite this investigation in any way. In this regard, we believe that a summons to appear in court would have sufficed. Various case laws support our view that attendance at court hearing can be well achieved without the need for aggressive or restrictive measures.
In a challenging health system such as ours, the NHPCA requests all health professionals, associations, regulatory bodies, and stakeholders to stand against this unfair precedent that has been set by the NPA and the SAPS. This approach must be rejected as it will have a significantly negative impact on both the public and private health sectors. As we embrace the NHI and Universal Health as a whole, we cannot support procedural unfairness or irregular conduct that will compromise access to health. As an association, we will continue to champion the rights of both patients and practitioners and we respectfully ask for a review of this matter to ensure fairness for all concerned.
Dr. D Gumede
NHPCA - Chairman
The NHCPA is a multidisciplinary association for all health professionals registered under the professional boards of the HPCSA. We support the need for accessible, quality healthcare for all. For any membership or support information, kindly contact our secretary-general, Dr. P Buthelezi on 076 147 9524