MPS: here for you, not profits
By Alika Maharaj, MPS Membership and Marketing Agent
Clinical negligence can be a very expensive issue, which means that subscriptions for medical indemnity protection often represent a significant – but necessary – outlay. With some of the figures involved, it is easy to think of MPS as a big global organisation that swallows members’ money.
Our purpose is to protect and promote members’ professional interests
However, MPS prides itself on being a not-for-profit organisation and mutuality is something that is at our very core. As a mutual and not-for-profit organisation, MPS answers to no shareholders – our purpose is to protect and promote members’ professional interests, often in a changing environment.
All decisions we make are not solely on financial grounds; rather it is doctors and dentists who make the key decisions, on a case-by-case basis, to ensure that each member is treated as an individual.
We have also forged close contacts with governments around the world to ensure that legislation and policy decisions take into account the views and interests of MPS members. We promote safer practice by running risk management programmes and workshops around the world.
Decisions to spend members’ funds are not taken lightly and every cent retained is put back into your welfare, aimed at supporting your practice and helping you avoid getting into trouble in the first place.
You may see me and Ian Middleton at events and conferences – so please ask us more about MPS’s ethos. MPS is your organisation.
JUDASA warning over locum work
Carrying out locum work is illegal and liable to attract harsh penalties
The Junior Doctors Association of South Africa (JUDASA) has reminded interns and medical students that carrying out locum work is illegal and liable to attract harsh penalties. In a strongly-worded statement, JUDASA chairperson Dr Tende Makofane stated that interns and medical students are still trainees and, as such, are not permitted to work as independent doctors in private practices.
Dr Makofane also advised against selling off overtime forms in exchange for money, either to other interns or medical officers. The penalties for such illegal practice are also harsh, he said.
Staying in touch with MPS
Are you receiving all the benefits that your membership entitles you to? Are your contact details up to date with MPS?
At MPS we use many communication methods to contact you about your membership and benefits. This could be confirmation of a recent change to your membership, eg, a change to your subscription grade, issuing your membership documentation, how to access free Continuing Education Unit workshops or providing useful publications and information. To ensure that you receive all the latest information and documentation it is essential that your contact details are up to date.
To ensure that you receive all the latest information and documentation it is essential that your contact details are up to date
We retain the following contact details:
- Current postal address
- Daytime, evening and mobile telephone numbers
- Email addresses
- Fax numbers.
To update your membership contact details or to simply check that we hold the latest and correct details, please contact your MPS team at the South African Medical Association (SAMA). They can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by post at PO Box 74789, Lynnwood Ridge 0040, South Africa, or by telephone on 0800 225 677 (toll-free) or 012 481 2070; by fax on 012 481 2061 or 086 635 8810.
Don’t forget to quote your membership number in your communication. Providing MPS with the correct information will ensure that we can contact you and that you don’t miss any of the benefits to which you are entitled.
This information is also often used for security purposes when you contact SAMA or MPS, therefore for your own security and to save unnecessary delay your data must be accurate and up to date. Should you require assistance from MPS, any incorrect information may again cause unnecessary delay. We look forward to hearing from you.
Telemedicine: MPS comments
Members of MPS are advised not to participate in commercial telemedicine services
Both MPS and the HPCSA have warned doctors not to participate in telemedicine services, following the launch earlier this year of the “Hello Doctor” service. Telemedicine is a telephone-based practice where patients are invited to call doctors for medical advice. Members of MPS are advised not to participate in commercial telemedicine services – it is highly unlikely that we would assist any HPCSA-registered member with any problems that arise from participation in such services.
The HPCSA has not approved “Hello Doctor”, which is not registered as a medical service in South Africa. Citing risks to patient confidentiality, continuity of care and the process of obtaining valid consent, the HPCSA has said that it will not approve the service and urged all registered doctors to avoid involvement with “Hello Doctor” or any similar operation.
New telemedicine guidelines are due from the HPCSA, who asked for the business models of “Hello Doctor” and other companies offering telemedicine. See the news section and www.hpcsa.co.za for the complete statements from MPS and the HPCSA.
Demands grow for better security
Last month’s fatal stabbing of Dr Senzosenkosi Mkhize at the Middleburg Hospital in Mpumalanga has prompted fresh calls to improve security in the country’s hospitals. Poppy Ramathuba, chairperson of the South African Medical Association (SAMA), raised doubts over the tenders used in employing security firms at hospitals, saying that they favour profits over quality.
We can no longer afford to wait until another doctor’s life is put in danger at their place of work
The HPCSA, meanwhile, has warned the ongoing safety issue for doctors in South Africa may force more of them to work overseas, as they fear for their lives. JUDASA added to the outcry, issuing a press release that said: “We have…run out of patience to mourn the killing, raping and mugging of doctors at South African public hospitals. The recent slaughtering of Dr Senzo Mkhize at Middleburg Hospital is the last straw.
"We can no longer afford to wait until another doctor’s life is put in danger at their place of work.” The organisation added that it has repeatedly called on the Department of Health to install metal detectors at hospital entrances, to help detect dangerous weapons that may be carried in members of the public. The press release poured scorn on the current practice, where security guards check health workers while members of the public escape scrutiny.
State surgical errors cost R33 million
Most of his cases were against state hospitals because of lack of specialised treatment, overcrowding, lack of finances, or damaged or broken equipment
Errors made during surgeries performed at state hospitals in the past year have led to the government paying out R33 million in compensation.
This includes 55 cases in the Eastern Cape alone. Local medical malpractice attorney Ben Niehaus, who recently won a R1m lawsuit against the department after a woman’s child died at birth due to insufficient oxygen, said there had been a surge in cases.
Mr Niehaus, from Niehaus Mcmahon & Oosthuizen Attorneys, attributed this to wide media coverage on litigation, which has made wronged families realise that “after someone dies... or the wrong limb is amputated, it is not the end of the road. Patients have a right to compensation”. He said most of his cases were against state hospitals because of lack of specialised treatment, overcrowding, lack of finances, or damaged or broken equipment.
Mervyn Joseph, from Joseph’s Incorporated in Johannesburg, said an alarming number of his cases – against the public and private sector – came out of the Eastern Cape. In one of the biggest cases to come out of the province, Joseph recently represented a King William’s Town woman who won a R16m claim after her baby was born with permanent and severe brain damage due to a lack of oxygen at birth.
Bogus abortionist infiltrates hospital
An alleged backyard abortionist used documents with a hospital’s letterhead to gain access to a hospital and carry out illegal abortions.
The man is thought to be part of a larger group of fake doctors carrying out illegal abortions in Tshwane. He was arrested after security staff at the hospital questioned a young woman who was waiting outside a pharmacy to meet a “doctor” – who turned out to be a man who had been monitored for weeks.
Concerns over paediatric surgeon shortage
The South African Association of Paediatric Surgeons (SAAPS) has warned of a “grave shortage” of paediatric surgeons in South Africa, saying that scheduled operations were being cancelled in favour of emergency procedures.
According to SAAPS, there are only 27 registered paediatric surgeons in the country, although some of those have retired and two only worked in private practice. In South Africa there is one specialist paediatric surgeon for every two million children, compared to one for every 300,000 in Europe. In one hospital, children aged over ten are placed on the adult surgery waiting list.