Medical practice shock for docs

2014-05-24 00:00

MEDICAL practitioners will in future not simply be able to open a practice wherever they like.

A new health law signed by President Jacob Zuma in April regulates where practices may be established.

Anyone who has a practice or wants to open a new one will have to apply for a “certificate of need”, which will be approved or denied by the director-general of Health, depending on the needs of the area.

If the certificate is denied, the practitioner will have to move to an area where the need for his services is deemed to be greater.

“It is social manipulation,” said Dr Chris Archer, CEO of the South African forum for private practitioners. “They can’t mess with people’s lives like this.”

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s spokesperson, Jo Maila, said the intention is to ensure a fair distribution of medical services and resources across the country.

“I want to stress it is not about individual doctors, but about the institutions in which they work,” he said.

Archer said they understand the government’s efforts to give all South Africans access to quality healthcare, but to simply force through a law without consulting the private sector is “unacceptable”.

He said the vast majority of practitioners are not aware of the new law. They have two years, until April 2016, to apply for a certificate of need.

Archer, a gynaecologist who practises at Park Lane Clinic in Johannesburg, said he would sooner close and retire if his application were to be denied.

“There’s no way I could move my practice to Alexandra, for example. I am established at Park Lane, I have invested there. I don’t live in Alexandra, I don’t have the facilities to practise there. You can’t just uproot someone and transplant them.”

Charmaine Motloung, spokesperson for the Heatlh Professions Council, said they are considering the issue and would react next week.

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