Health Professions Council Ombudsman
Good Health is Your Right
All people have the right to good health and quality healthcare. This includes
- Living in a healthy and safe environment.
- Having access to quality healthcare that you can afford.
- Choosing the healthcare services you prefer to use.
- Receiving appropriate treatment from a qualified healthcare professional.
- Knowing that your personal information is treated confidentially and kept private.
- Being fully informed about any illness, diagnostic procedures, proposed treatments and the related costs.
- Choosing to accept or refuse treatment.
- Obtaining a second opinion, where appropriate.
- Receiving ongoing care from your chosen healthcare provider.
You also have the right to complain about healthcare services that either violate your rights to good health or breach ethical standards, to have your complaint investigated and to receive a full response thereafter.
Who can you complain about?
The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) helps promote the health of all South Africans. It does so by determining standards of professional education and training; and by setting and maintaining the highest standards of professional and ethical behaviour for the following healthcare professionals:
- Art therapists
- Clinical technologists
- Dental therapists
- Dispensing opticians
- Emergency care personnel
- Environmental health officers
- Hearing aid acousticians
- Medical orthotists and prosthetists
- Medical practitioners
- Medical scientists
- Medical technologists
- Occupational therapists
- Oral hygienists
- Speech therapists
NOTE: Pharmacists, nurses, chiropractors, homoeopaths, dental technicians and healthcare institutions (like hospitals and clinics) are not registered with HPCSA.
Is your complaint related to a public hospital?
If you have a complaint, speak to the clinic or hospital manager, however if you are still unhappy, you can contact the Health Department in your Province during working hours:
Eastern Cape - 0800 032 364
Free State - 0800 535 554
Gauteng - 0800 203 886
KwaZulu Natal - 033 395 2009
Limpopo - 0800 919 191
Mpumalanga - 0800 204 098
Northern Cape - 018 387 5778
Western Cape - 021 483 5624
Is your complaint related to a private hospital?
Complaints about private hospitals can be reported to the Hospital Association of South Africa.
Is your complaint related to a nurse?
If you feel that a nurse acted negligently or unethically, individual nurses can be reported to the South African Nursing Council (SANC) to investigate the complaint.
Is your complaint related to an alternative healthcare practitioner (natural healers, homeopath etc)?
If you feel that an alternative healthcare practitioner acted negligently or unethically, report to the Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa (AHPCSA) to investigate the complaint.
What can you complain about?
Healthcare professionals registered with HPCSA are required to uphold prescribed standards of professional and ethical behaviour. You are entitled (and encouraged) to lodge a complaint with HPCSA regarding any conduct by an HPCSA-registered professional that breaches these standards, such as
- Unauthorised advertising.
- Incompetence in treating patients.
- Over-servicing patients.
- Charging excessive fees.
- Criminal convictions.
- Insufficient care towards patients.
- Improper relationships.
- Racial discrimination.
- Improper conduct.
- Rude behaviour towards patients.
- Performing surgical procedures without the patient’s informed consent.
- Prescription of specific medicine to maintain the dependency of a patient.
- Disclosing information regarding the patient without his/her permission.
How to lodge a complaint
All complaints must be sent in writing to The Registrar: HPCSA, either by
- General Mail: P O Box 205, Pretoria 0001;
- Hand Delivery: 553 Vermeulen Street (Corner Hamilton and Vermeulen Street), Arcadia, Pretoria; or
- Fax: (+27) 12 328 4895
To be acted upon by HPCSA, your complaint must
- State clearly that you wish to complain against a healthcare professional and that the HPCSA should investigate your complaint;
- Identify the healthcare professional against whom the complaint lodged, by including his/her surname, initials, practice address and practice registration number;
- Detail the nature of the complaint, including all relevant dates and facts as well as supporting documentation were available;
- Be signed by you, your legal representative or any other person lodging the complaint on your behalf; and
- Include full contact details for correspondence purposes (such as requesting additional information regarding your complaint).
The complaints process
- Within seven (7) days of receiving your complaint, the Registrar forwards your complaint to the healthcare professional concerned and requests a written explanation from him/her. (Note that the healthcare professional may refuse or be advised not to provide an explanation, as an explanation may be used as evidence later.)
- Your letter of complaint together with the healthcare professional’s explanation (if submitted) is referred to the Professional Board concerned for consideration.
- Should the Board decide that there are grounds for complaint, a Professional Conduct Committee will hold a professional conduct enquiry, during which oral evidence is presented, often including independent, expert witnesses. (Note: Professional conduct enquiries are open to the public and the media, unless closed at the discretion of the chairperson.)
- Should the professional conduct enquiry find the healthcare professional guilty of misconduct, the committee’s decision is final, unless either party lodges an appeal.
- A healthcare professional found guilty of professional misconduct may be subject to the following penalties:
- A caution or a reprimand or both;
- A fine;
- Suspension for a specified period from practising his/her profession;
- Removal of his/her name from the relevant register;
- A compulsory period of professional service; or
- Payment of the costs of the proceedings.
The Professional Conduct Committee cannot order the healthcare professional to make financial restitution to the person(s) lodging the complaint. However, members of the public who lodge a complaint through HPCSA may also pursue civil litigation independently.
Copyright - Health Professions Council of South Africa