HPCSA decision on Ramathuba over Zim patient video a slap on the wrist.

The DA in Limpopo notes the decision by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) over the unacceptable conduct of Limpopo Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba toward a Zimbabwean patient in a video last year.

In a letter to the DA the Council indicated that its committee had resolved that:

i) There is evidence of unprofessional conduct on Dr Ramathuba in terms of Regulation 4(9) of regulations relating to conduct of inquiries into alleged unprofessional conduct under the Health Professions Act
ii) Impose as a penalty a caution and reprimand to the practitioner in terms of Section 42(1)A of the Health Professions Act for unprofessional behaviour and unbecoming of a medical profession to be shouting at a patient’s bedside as the patient was vulnerable at the time.
The widely circulated video showed Ramathuba berating and humiliating a patient in a room full of onlookers. Ramathuba asks the patient what a Shona speaker is doing in Bela-Bela “when you are supposed to be with Mnangagwa” and berates the patient for being an illegal immigrant and then proceeds to blame foreign nationals for “killing my health system.”

The DA laid complaints with the HPCSA, South Africa Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), Public Service Commission (PSC) and the ethics committee in the Limpopo Legislature in August last year, as we consider Ramathuba’s comments as inconsistent with the standard of treatment that should be afforded to a patient and not in the best interest or well being of the patient.

Ramathuba needed to treat the situation with the necessary sensitivity despite her own frustrations and ensure that the foreign national was afforded the same level of dignity, respect and treatment as any other patient.

Ramathuba’s actions could have also stoked xenophobic sentiments and jeopardised the safety of foreign nationals, especially illegal immigrants that are a result of the country’s porous borders that have been mismanaged by the ANC.

The province’s health department has been hamstrung by poor management, financial mismanagement, crippling staff and medicine shortages, billions in medical negligence claims, poor infrastructure as well as insufficient equipment and resources. It was disingenuous of Ramathuba to use foreign nationals as a scapegoat and blame them for the province’s ailing health system.

Ramathuba has been a perennial underachiever in her role as MEC and has overseen the poor performance of the province’s health department. She cannot place the difficulty of running the province’s health department on foreign nationals alone and side step years of her department’s failures.

While we note the slap on the wrist by the HPCSA, we still believe it is inadequate and she must be fired in order to save the province’s health system. Ramathuba has still not apologised for her behaviour in that incident and recently had another viral video of an incident of her humiliating a staff member in front of the public.

The DA is committed to ensuring a provincial health system in Limpopo that provides adequate healthcare to residents in a dignified manner.

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