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SOCIAL SERVICES SELECT COMMITTEE
23 January 2007
HEALTH PROFESSIONS AMENDMENT BILL [B10B – 2006]: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Ms J M Masilo (ANC) [North-West]
Documents handed out
Amendments to the Bill
Presentation by the Department of Health with Attachments
The Department of Health briefed the Committee on the Health Professions Amendment Bill which aimed to transform the Health Profession Council of South Africa so as to increase the protection of the public interest and promote the delivery of quality care.
The discussion centred on the points of the number of members in the council. The discussion then moved as to how the council would be nominated and if this was a democratic process. The discussion ensued as to how democratic it would be to have those nominations instead of the members being elected.
It was concluded that more research and investigation needed to be done as to how other councils were run.
Department of Health briefing
Ms Rose Mdlalose, Director: Human Resources, provided a briefing on the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) as well as an outline of the Health Professions Amendment Bill, its purpose and what the changes to certain sections meant.
The purpose of the Council was to promote the delivery of quality care and to protect the public interest. A historical overview of the HPSCA noted the transformation process initiated in 1994 and the recommendations made by the task team set up in 2001 in order to accelerate the transformation process. The task team's recommendations embodied in this Bill introduce good corporate governance for Council members and the Registrar, a Charter for council members and also allows the Minister to appoint members of professional boards on the basis of nominations rather than via the costly exercise of elections by members of the professions concerned.
Particular focus was given to Clauses 5, 13, 15 and 16 of the Bill because of their significance to the Council and Health Professionals. A synopsis of the Health Professions Amendment Bill was discussed which covered the individual clauses and what each was changing in the Act.
Mr M Thetjeng (DA, Limpopo Province) referred to Clause 42 and asked how the fine would apply to misconduct and why the fine would be capped at R10 000.
The Department of Health replied that the maximum fine would no longer apply and that the fine would have to fit the misconduct.
Ms F Mazibuko (ANC, Gauteng) questioned the reduction of council members from 52 to 25 members.
Ms Mdlalose replied that the Council was being reduced in number for efficiency and to increase accountability. The 20% representation of community members was introduced so that there would an objective and non-professional perspective from the community and in the interest of the public. The task team of 2001 advised the reduction to streamline the process and to have all the professions represented.
A member (ANC) asked about the community representation of 20% and whether they could vote or not.
Mr D Mkono (ANC, Eastern Cape) questioned for clarity on the difference between the “democratic permanent council” and the “permanent democratic council”. He also asked what misconduct was as referred to in clause 24 and if it included criminal acts committed by the member.
The Department of Health replied that there was no difference in meaning.
Ms A Qikani (UDM, Eastern Cape) asked for clarity on clause 25 (3)(a).
Ms H Lamoela (DA, Western Cape) questioned about the exclusion of certain professionals from community service.
The department replied that clause 25 3(a) was a new submission into the Act, and certain foreign professionals would not have to complete community service. Usually a foreign national would be required to prove relationship and would become a resident in 5 years, however they would have needed to have worked in the public sector for three years. The medical professionals who would be exempt from the community service would be those Doctors who had specialist skills.
The Chair asked for more clarity on the changes that had been made.
A member queried again about the difference between the “Democratic permanent council” and the “Permanent democratic council”.
Ms Mdlalose replied that the council that was first elected in 1994 was an interim council and the present one is now the permanent council as the term of office is 5 years.
Ms Mazibuko questioned about the process of nominations and whether this would be democratic and transparent.
Ms Lamoela queried if by reducing the amount of members on the council whether this would be fully representative. She also queried whether cost should be a factor in the number of members.
A representative from the Department of Health replied that nominations were accepted as to be more representative of the demographics of the country and the different medical fields.
Ms M Green-Thompson (HPCSA) discussed the reason why the council was now accepting nominations for positions rather than by election. She explained that it would hasten the transformation of the council and assist in the public been properly represented. With regard to the reduction in council members, it was stated that it would assist in equal representation of all those in the Health Sector.
Mr Sulliman (ANC, Northern Cape) questioned whether the members of the council were given an allowance or a package for been on the council.
A legal advisor replied that those on the council do not receive a salary however they do receive an allowance. The Clause 42 penalty was introduced so that the penalty would fit the offence of the professional.
Ms Mazibuko stated that she thought the council was taking short cuts with regard to democracy and that they should be legally elected representatives.
The chair stated that democracy should be deepening and that it should not be reduced in certain processes.
Ms N Madlala-Magubane (ANC) [Gauteng) stated that the control needed to be overseen by the chairperson however the process should be the correct one.
Mr Masupo (DOH) replied that a complete demographic needed to be represented and that the nominations occur from the elected professionals. The High Court also had the power to review the process subject to provisions made. The re-election of members needed to be achieved in a representative way.
Ms Mdlalose endorsed what was previously stated. She also stated that the Task Team that was appointed made recommendations to the council on the transformation could be achieved. With regard to nominations all provinces needed to be represented.
The chair requested the required information about Clause 75 and whether it could be forwarded to the members.
Ms H Sangoni (Senior State Law Advisor) stated that the legacy of the past could be changed through a process and that the minister had power to appoint, so that it could be remedied by provision.
Ms Mdlalose stated that the professional would nominate from their sector and the minister would then make a choice of members.
The Chair said that this would not be democratic and that this needed to be further discussed. A suggestion was made that possibly half should be nominated and the other half of the council should be elected to maintain a balance. She requested the State Law Advisor to assist in whether this was a Clause 75 or Clause 76 Bill.
Ms Sangoni stated that in the context of the Bill it was a Clause 75 Bill at the end of the deliberations.
The Chair stated that further information was needed from the Health Department and that the committee needed to be more fully informed.
The meeting was adjourned.
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