She earns R1 million a year from the government - but she was caught doctoring elsewhere
THE Eastern Cape department of health has pounced on a state doctor running her private practice while she was supposed to be attending to patients at a state hospital in Mthatha.
The doctor, who earns approximately over R1-million from the State annually, was caught by department officials working in her private office instead of the state hospital.
The raid was conducted on Thursday by Dr Mbuyiselo Madiba of the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital together with provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo.
The doctor, who is employed at the hospital’s dental clinic, owns a private practice in Owen Street.
When confronted by Madiba at the practice on why she wasn’t at the hospital, the doctor allegedly fled into an office and did not emerge again.
According to a nurse at the practice, the doctor arrives at her surgery at about 10am in the mornings where she tends to her patients until 1pm. It is alleged she then goes to the state hospital after 2pm.
When officials and the Dispatch visited the dental clinic at the hospital where the doctor was supposed to be attending to patients, a nurse on duty confirmed the story.
"This morning she said she would see 10 patients, but left at 10am and never returned," the nurse said.
The provincial department of health has laid complaints against various doctors with the national Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) ethics committee, but could not say how many.
Kupelo said this was not an isolated incident as there were allegedly a number of state doctors who run private practices while they are supposed to be at work.
“A number of doctors have been found to be doing this and that has led the Mthatha hospital alone to have over 200 litigations as the hospital relies on interns,” said Kupelo. “This is fraud. These doctors are stealing our time and go run their practices while they are expected to be at work.”
The spokesman said the department was inundated with calls from irate patients complaining about the shortage of doctors in hospitals.
“We are short of doctors and everyday we have long queues at hospitals, patients complain.
“The doctors are paid for a whole day’s work. We are losing lives because doctors are not at their workplace. This is the kind of behaviour that is giving the department a bad name.”
Health department head, Dr Siva Pillay, confirmed they had laid complaints with the Health Professions Council.
“We want them to investigate fraud and unethical behaviour against these doctors. We are also in a process of instituting disciplinary processes against many of them,” Pillay said.
He added that the problem was most prevalent in the Mthatha and Port Elizabeth areas.
Pillay said only doctors with special permission from the MEC were allowed to operate private practices.
“Only two doctors in the Eastern Cape have that permission. Others are doing it illegally,” he said.
HPCSA chief executive Dr Buyiswa Mjamba-Matshoba confirmed that her body had received a complaint from the provincial department.
“The matter is an employer-employee issue and therefore should be dealt with at that level,” Mjamba-Matshoba said.
She said the HPCSA investigated complaints against individual healthcare practitioners registered with it. “Therefore, if the employer finds any proof of unprofessional conduct by healthcare practitioners, these can be reported to the HPCSA for further investigations,” she added.
Kupelo, however, said he was not aware of this as they had not received a formal response from the HPCSA yet.