There may be some reprieve for South Africans who studied medicine overseas as a plan to accommodate them for training will be discussed next week.
This comes after several graduates raised their concerns in light of a Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) regulation which stipulates that the graduates obtain internships in the countries where they studied before writing their board exams.
The regulation had not been implemented previously and the doctors argued that it would be difficult to comply owing to issues of residency.
One of the graduates, Kapil Sevnaran, who was denied the opportunity to write the board exam due to the regulation, instructed law firm Pravda and Knowles Attorneys to bring an application in the Pretoria High Court to appeal the HPCSA’s decision.
In the appeal papers, it is argued that the council had denied Sevnaran the opportunity to write the exams because of the section of its regulations which has not been strictly applied until recently.
However, the vice-chairperson of the SA Medical Association (Sama), Professor Mark Sonderup, said yesterday that the association felt that legal action was not necessary at this stage.
This as Sama had facilitated a meeting on Wednesday
between some of the students and the national Department of Health.
While this was a “complex” issue, Sonderup said he was not convinced that there was a need for legal action.
“It was a very productive meeting and there is a very clear plan on the table at the moment.
“We do not feel the legal route is necessary, certainly not at this stage, because the department is in discussion with the HPSCA and the committee of deans of medical schools to resolve this issue as speedily as possible in the interest of these young doctors, who we actually need in this country,” said Sonderup.
He said what Sama wanted was the standardisation of the process in terms of which foreign-trained qualified doctors are able to be registered in the country.
“There needs to be a clear and unambiguous process which allows them to access internship and go through the rigorous standards for medical practitioners in South Africa.
“No one wants to impede their process of registration,” said Sonderup.
The meeting was called at the request of Precious Matsoso, the director-general in the Department of Health.
“I asked Sama to convene the meeting with students who studied abroad who were not granted either the opportunity to write the exam or were not placed for their clinical training.
“The students had the opportunity to respond individually and I was very touched by their passion to serve their country.”
She said the aim of the meeting was to discuss broadly the issue of placement of all such students as the department needed to plan to accommodate them.
“We need to create an environment for them to go through the same process to be placed in clinical training. We’re meeting next week with universities, statutory bodies and stakeholders to come up with a concrete programme for this,” said Matsoso.