Doctors are being reminded to check the status of any locums or assistants they wish to engage, unless they want to fall foul of numerous potential pitfalls, including criminal charges.
Medical Protection regularly handles cases involving members who have been found to be employing unregistered locums and assistants. While the locums and assistants themselves can face being arrested by SAPS for their illegal practice, the employing doctors are not exempt from criticism. They leave themselves vulnerable to an HPCSA investigation and fine, restrictions on their clinical practice and difficulties when applying for letters of good standing in relation to future job roles.
The HPCSA issued an alert in late 2019 regarding a specific case:
An unregistered locum was arrested for practising while suspended for failure to pay annual fees. Dr G, a foreign graduate, had been suspended on 15 October 2010 and was arrested while working as a locum at the practice of Dr B.
Dr G said he had been working as a locum for Dr B for three months before his arrest. On the day of his arrest Dr G had consulted with 83 patients. All the clinical notes were seized as evidence and Dr G was detained for further enquiries by SAPS.