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South Africa

Fake doctors in dock in South Africa

Hospital

Six men accused of practising as doctors in South Africa without medical qualifications appeared in court on Tuesday. The group comprising five Nigerians and one Zambian face charges of fraud, indecent assault and impersonating doctors.

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They were remanded in custody after the hearing for a week while they await trial. A seventh man is still on the run.

Police say the bogus doctors may have treated thousands of patients across South Africa, from Limpopo and the Eastern and Western Capes.

All foreign doctors who want to practise medicine in the country are supposed to sit an exam with the Health Professions Council of South Africa.

“It would appear that bogus practitioners were making use of the documentation of certain registered practitioners, posing as those practitioners,” says HPC spokesperson Berta Peters-Skippers. “We have called on the South African public to request the HPC card from any practitioner who is rendering healthcare service to them who they deem suspicious.”

South Africa’s private medical sector is run by medical schemes called mutuals. In order to see patients from these medical schemes doctors have to have a practice number.

Medical industry body the Board of Health Care Funders says it's investigating 17 practice numbers that may have been used by two impostors.

“It affects the members of the medical schemes and their money so if there’s fraud it’s a waste of money and the premium to pay for these mutuals go up so it affects every single member of these medical schemes,” says Board of Health Care Funders spokesperson Heidi Kruger. “In South Africa there are eight and a half million members.”

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