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Event special: Ethics 4 All

The largest gathering of MPS members anywhere in the world assembled in South Africa last November, as MPS’s annual Ethics 4 All event took place. 

The largest gathering of MPS members anywhere in the world assembled in South Africa last November, as MPS’s annual Ethics 4 All event took place.

Held over three locations, the event in total attracted around 2,500 delegates – with 450 attendees in Durban, nearly 400 in Pretoria and more than 1,600 in Cape Town. The event is now in its fifth year but was making its debut in Durban.

The conferences, which support doctors faced with ethical challenges and enable them to obtain CPD/CME points for the ethical component of their professional development, had a different high-profile chairperson at each event. These were:

  • Durban: Professor Morgan Chetty, Professor of Managed Care and Health Services Management, University of KwaZulu-Natal and Chairperson, South African Managed Care Coalition Ltd.
  • Pretoria: Professor Ames Dhai, Director of the Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics and Co-Chair of the Human Research Ethics Committee, University of Witwatersrand.
  • Cape Town: Professor Zephne van der Spuy, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Cape Town. 
Providing support and guidance to doctors about ethical issues by way of these conferences is both timely and fulfils a key educational need
There was the usual series of presentations at each of the events. In Pretoria and Cape Town, MPS Chief Executive Simon Kayll opened proceedings with a talk that provided an overview of MPS in South Africa, which included a look at current membership numbers; an overview of MPS’s service delivery in the country, and what this says about our ngoing commitment to South Africa; finally, Mr Kayll identified the challenges facing MPS in South Africa. In Durban, the event was opened by Dr Stephanie Bown, MPS Director of Policy and Communications, and Editor-in-Chief of Casebook

Subsequent presentations were:

  • Special Investigations – Avoiding Complaints: Consent and Context, delivered by Dr Graham Howarth, MPS Head of Medical Services (Africa).
  • Balancing Resources, by Professor Martin Veller, Professor and Head, Department of Surgery, University of Witwatersrand.
  • Why do Patients Sue?, by John Tiernan, Director of MPS Educational Services.
  • The Trouble with Being Human – The Role of Effective Teams in Creating a Just Culture, by Guy Hirst, British Airways Training Captain (retired) and Human Factors Consultant.

Dr Howarth said: “Set against the backdrop of an adverse claims environment and increasing complaints to the HPCSA, providing support and guidance to doctors about ethical issues by way of these conferences is both timely and fulfils a key educational need.

"We know that issues surrounding ethics and professionalism can be challenging for doctors to navigate and, although we’re here for doctors when things go wrong, we very much want to help them get it right in the first place. It’s about preventing pain for doctors and their patients. 

Although we’re here for doctors when things go wrong, we very much want to help them get it right in the first place

“Helping doctors understand why patients complain – for example, poor communication skills or not managing patient expectations – can minimise potential complaints as well as improve the doctor–patient relationship.

“MPS’s membership – and with it our commitment to South Africa – is growing, which is why we have extended the conference over three sites and continue to provide workshops across South Africa on specialised communication techniques for a range of situations.

“The feedback we have received from delegates has been overwhelming; we have had so many messages of support and encouragement – we really look forward to delivering these conferences again in 2013.”

The growing success of Ethics 4 All means MPS is hopeful of repeating – and building on – its positive reception in 2013. 

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