Tag: healthcare politics

Medical Bodies Push Back against Commission for Gender Equality’s Statement

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The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), along with other professional medical and scientific institutions released a statement  distancing themselves from the Commission for Gender Equality’s (CGE) press release of 16 January, 2022, titled “Warning Against Imposing Mandatory Covid-19 Vaccination on Employees and Students”. [PDF]

The CGE cited an article published in Obstetrics and Gynaecology which found that women receiving Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or J&J COVID vaccines, vaccine administration was associated with less than a one-day change in cycle length for both vaccine-dose cycles compared with pre-vaccine cycles. The article concluded that clinically meaningful change in menstrual cycle duration associated with COVID vaccination was found. 

The CGE used this study as justification, cautioning businesses and institutions against mandatory vaccination and recommended against sanctions for employees who chose to remain vaccinated.

The signatories expressed their concern at the contents of the statement which is at odds with the scientific understanding of COVID vaccinations, a concern which is compounded by the “enormous influence” of the GCE.

They accept that the vaccine mandates are subject to legal scrutiny, but take issue with the commission “trying to bolster its argument by wrongly insinuating that COVID vaccination has the potential to harm women’s health.”

They also point out that the commission seems to disregard the much greater risks to women and their unborn babies of COVID infection, while misinterpreting evidence on minor menstrual cycle lengthening. This creates fear and confusion in vaccinated women, and may increase vaccine hesitancy.

“It fails to appreciate that one in six unvaccinated pregnant women admitted to hospital in South Africa with COVID infection requires mechanical ventilation, and one in 16 has a fatal outcome,” the signatories stated.

They noted that COVID vaccination provides upwards of 80% protection against severe disease, hospitalisation and death.

They endorse the view of the College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of South Africa, which draws on research of the highest quality, that the menstrual effects are minor.

The evidence is “indisputable” that COVID vaccination is safe, does not negatively affect women’s bodies and saves the lives of women, they stress. Statements to the contrary are strongly repudiated.

“We are of the view that the CGE, like all state institutions, medical and scientific bodies, social partners and civil society formations working in the fields of women’s rights, empowerment and equality, should urge women to get vaccinated and advance and defend their rights to all relevant information about and access to vaccination.”

The signatories call on the CGE to withdraw its 16 January statement and to share with it scientific facts on COVID vaccination and women’s health.

Source: South African Medical Research Council

SA Healthcare Bolstered With Vaccine Lab Investment and Loans

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Last week, South African healthcare received a double shot in the arm with the opening of a local vaccine manufacturing facility and the approval of a World Bank loan to bolster social safety nets and health systems.

On Wednesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa and health technology billionaire Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong officially opened a new vaccine manufacturing facility in Brackenfell, Western Cape.

The South African-born entrepreneur has been strongly supporting local healthcare, with R3 billion invested to help SA share vaccine technology with the rest of Africa. His company, ImmunityBio, is developing a T-cell based universal COVID vaccine, currently in Phase III trials in SA. The same adenovirus vector technology it uses is also being tested in cancer vaccines.

“It has been a dream of mine, since I left the country as a young physician, to bring state-of-the-art, 21st century medical care to SA and to enable the country to serve as a scientific hub for the continent,” Dr Shoon-Siong had previously said. The technology transfer will help “establish much-needed capacity and self-sufficiency.”

The hub will transfer technology, know-how and materials for DNA, RNA, adjuvant vaccine platforms and cell therapies to SA.

“There is no reason we couldn’t make 500 million doses a year,” said Dr Soon-Shiong, who is also a Wits alumnus. “Subject to the raw material being available.”

He said he wants to tap the country’s expertise on prevalent diseases such as HIV and cervical cancer. “There are fantastic scientists with deep knowledge about these diseases,” he said. “More so than in America because they see these patients every day.”

President Ramaphosa and Dr Soon-Shiong also launched the Coalition to Accelerate Africa’s Access to Advanced Healthcare, which aims to drive the development of innovative therapeutics and ensure the continent is prepared for future pandemics.

The coalition aims to manufacture a billion doses of the COVID vaccine by 2025 and to develop treatments for conditions including cancer, COVID, tuberculosis and HIV.

South Africa also received approval from the World Bank for a US$750 million COVID relief loan aimed at reducing the worst of the pandemic’s impact on the poor.

“The World Bank budget support is coming at a critical time for us and will contribute towards addressing the financing gap stemming from additional spending in response to the COVID crisis,” said Dondo Mogajane, Director General of the National Treasury. “It will assist in addressing the immediate challenge of financing critical health and social safety net programs whilst also continuing to develop our economic reform agenda to build back better.”

Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla warned that South Africa will likely enter a fifth wave when cold temperatures in May, though what COVID variants may drive it remain to be seen.

SA’s Top 10 Health Topics to Watch in 2022

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Spotlight highlights the country’s top 10 health topics to keep an eye on in 2022.

1. COVID prosecutions
Former health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize resigned amid allegations of wrongdoing in the Digital Vibes scandal, and hit back at the findings of the Special Investigations Unit, which had also implicated a number of top health department officials. Whether Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla  will take decisive action against those found guilty will be an important litmus test. Last year, Dr Phaahla assured the public that the department “is going to thoroughly and decisively act to ensure nothing is swept under the carpet”.

2. The NHI Bill
Public hearings on the National Health Insurance Bill will be done by the end of January, with feedback in February and final report by April 1. It then goes to the National Council of Provinces for a similar stakeholder process, and before the end of 2022 it could be signed into law.
To date, public inputs on the Bill were mostly on governance issues. A critical point this year is whether MPs will take these inputs on board and make significant changes to the bill, or whether they will simply force through the bill largely unchanged.

3. Medico-legal claims
With R74 billion in medico-legal claims against the state, the State Liability Bill is back on Parliament’s agenda. Instead of government departments paying a lump sum for successful medical negligence claims, the Bill proposes a new settlement structure of separate payments to relieve budgetary pressure on hospitals. Since the necessary final report from the South African Law Reform Commission is months away, Spotlight does not think the Bill will be passed this year – and first prize would be to prevent medico-legal claims from happening.

4. Healthcare budget cuts
Unfortunately, there is still no end in sight to continued budget cuts to healthcare. Employing more nurses could reduce medico-legal claims, but in fact there is a growing shortage of nurses. Even th Office of Health Standards Compliance is also hamstrung by inadequate funding, with only 61 inspectors to cover more than 5000 public healthcare facilities, putting off private sector inspections until next year.

5. HIV prophylaxis
With the extremely promising results of injectable pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV, there is still a process to go through before it will be made available in South Africa this year. COVID has shown that processes can be sped up if there is the will, but whether there is the same drive to treat HIV remains to be seen. As such, PrEP will most likely only be available in public healthcare facilities by the end of 2023.

6. An end to the COVID pandemic
While South Africa is heading towards living with COVID as an endemic disease, it is impossible to predict what surprises the coronavirus will have in store for the world this year in the form of new variants. However, according to Director of the Medical Research Council, Professor Glenda Gray, the winter months will give us an idea of the direction the pandemic will take with a fifth wave. Vaccination will remain key to reducing its severity.

7. SA’s TB programme
COVID severely set back SA’s TB programme, but 2022 should see the arrival of a number of delayed initiatives. These include rollout of the relatively new 3HP prevention pills, the results of new X-ray detection technology and  consequent possible changes to screening and testing, and an update to the Thembisa HIV model which will now include TB.

8. The National Mental Health Policy Framework
The new National Mental Health Policy Framework and Strategic Plan are expected to be finalised this year. However, as with the NHI, funding remains a problem. Only 5% of the current health budget goes to mental health services, and it only provides for one in 10 of those in need.

9. Improved procurement legislation
As illustrated by the government’s COVID procurement debacle, an overhaul is needed. Draft Public Procurement Bill proposes a single regulatory framework for all goods and services procured by government departments and has the potential to strengthen and streamline procurement processes. However, Spotlight notes that critically important pieces of legislation can simply vanish, as did the Medical Schemes Amendment Bill of 2018.

10. No-fault compensation fund
The COVID vaccine injury no-fault compensation fund has quietly fallen off the radar, with no payouts made to date. However, the NICD again urged people to report adverse events with the vaccine.

Source: Spotlight

Quebec to Impose Health Tax on The Unvaccinated

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The Canadian province of Quebec will impose a health tax on residents not vaccinated against COVID. The province is experiencing a surge in cases, and its 12 028 deaths as of Tuesday are the highest in Canada.

The province’s Premier Francois Legault announced on Tuesday that it would be the first in the nation to financially penalise the unvaccinated.

Around 12.8% of Quebec residents are unvaccinated, yet make up nearly half of all hospital cases.

At a news conference, the premier said that people who have not had a first vaccine dose will have to pay a “contribution”, which will be “significant”.

“I think right now it’s a question of fairness for the 90% of the population who made some sacrifices,” Mr Legault said. “I think we owe them this kind of measure.”

The province also announced last week that proof of vaccination would be required to shop in government cannabis and liquor stores.

Death rates are similar to January 2021, before widespread vaccinations had begun in the province. Unvaccinated patients make up 45% of COVID ICU cases.

Hospitals in Montreal, the province’s largest city, are nearing 100% capacity and have already started limiting non-Covid related care. Quebec’s positivity rate stands at 20%.

Though such approaches are rare, some unvaccinated individuals in other parts of the world face penalties from their governments.

Greece is set to require those over 60 to pay a €100 (R1750) fine for each month that they remain unvaccinated. Austria is considering an even stiffer €7200 (R126 000) fine for unvaccinated individuals. Unvaccinated COVID patients in Singapore will also have to pay their own medical bills: with ICU stays, this has been estimated at a median of S$25 000 (R287 500).

Source: BBC News

Living with COVID: SA’s New Approach

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South Africa’s easing of COVID regulations at the end of 2021 set a new trend in how countries are choosing to manage the pandemic. In an article for The Conversation, Wits University’s Professor Shabir Madhi and colleagues reflect on the boldness – and the risks.

In a significant departure, the government is choosing a new, more pragmatic approach while keeping an eye on severe COVID and threats to health systems. This reflects a willingness to “live with the virus” without causing further damage to the economy and livelihoods, especially in a resource-constrained country.

Prof Madhi and colleagues hope that “the government continues to pursue this approach and doesn’t blindly follow policies that are not feasible in the local context, and ultimately yield nominal benefit.”

This more nuanced approach is a stark contrast to reflexive restrictions in response to rising case rates, suggesting the government has listened to commentary saying that the focus should be on whether health systems are under threat.

A high level of population immunity guides this approach. A sero-survey in Gauteng, just prior to the onset of the Omicron wave indicated that 72% of people had been infected over the course of the first three waves. Sero-positivity was 79% and 93% in COVID unvaccinated and vaccinated people aged over 50: a group that had previously made up a high percentage of hospitalisations and deaths.

The sero-survey data show that immunity against severe COVID in the country has largely evolved through natural infection over the course of the first three waves and prior to the advent of vaccination. This has, however, come at the massive cost of 268 813 deaths based on excess mortality attributable to COVID

Antibody presence is a proxy for underlying T-cell immunity which appears to play an important role in reducing the risk of infection progressing to severe COVID. Current evidence indicates that such T cell immunity, which has multiple targets and even more so when induced by natural infection, is relatively unaffected even by Omicron’s many mutations and likely lasts more than a year. This sort of underpinning T-cell immunity protecting against severe disease should provide breathing space for at least the next 6–12 months, and possibly further.

Despite Omicron’s anti-spike evasion, vaccine and natural infection induced T-cell immunity has been relatively preserved. This could explain the uncoupling of case rate to hospitalisation and death rates. Omicron’s mutations also appear to make it predisposed to infecting the upper rather than the lower airway, reducing the likelihood of progressing to severe disease.

In the meantime, they stress that greater vaccine uptake is ensured, along with boosters for high-risk groups.

Additionally, since low test rates mean only 10% of infections are actually documented in SA , isolation and quarantine are ineffective and a more pragmatic approach is necessary, the authors argued.

As the average person in South Africa could have 20 close contacts per day, contact tracing is of little value, and even symptomatic cases are most infectious in the pre-symptomatic and early symptomatic phase. The fact that three quarters of the SA population were infected over the course of the first three waves demonstrates how ineffective contact tracing and quarantine is.
They recommend that certain non-pharmacological interventions should be gradually dropped, especially hand hygiene and superficial thermal screening, while outdoor events should be allowed. Rather, government focus should remain on masking in poorly ventilated spaces and ensuring proper ventilation.

Mandatory vaccinations are still on the radar, since as well as the added risk to others that unvaccinated pose, there is the greater pressure they place on the health systems when they are hospitalised for COVID.

Attention also needs to be given to the management of incidental COVID infections in hospitals. The Department of Health guidance needs to be adapted to manage these patients with the appropriate level of care for the primary reason they were admitted. And patients with severe COVID disease require additional care and expertise to improve their outcomes.

Finally, an evaluation of both vaccination status and underlying immune deficiency needs to become a key element of the workup of hospitalised patients with severe COVID.

The authors stressed the need to minimise hospitalisations and deaths, without damaging livelihoods. SA’s Omicron wave death rate is about a tenth that of Delta, on par with pre-COVID seasonal influenza deaths – 10 000 to 11 000 per annum. TB caused an estimated 58 000 deaths in 2019.

While future variants are unpredictable, there is a trend towards lower rates of hospitalisation and death, especially if vaccine coverage can be increased to 90%, particularly in the over-50 age group. Omicron’s high infection rate will likely also contribute to future protection against COVID.

They note that while there is a risk of new variants, failure to change the pandemic mindset is another risk, as Omicron signals the end of COVID’s epidemic phase.

Past practices have had little effect, the authors concluded, and it is something that the SA government appears to have realised. Despite all the severe lockdowns, SA still suffered a high COVID death rate of 481 per 100 000.

Source: The Conversation

Vaccine Patent Waivers are No Silver Bullet, Experts Argue

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Rather than a World Trade Organization (WTO) patent waiver, COVID vaccine equity requires improvements to manufacturing and distribution of vaccines in the Global South and compulsory licensing mechanisms, according to a statement by ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities. 

They state that the low level of COVID vaccination in the Global South is ethically unacceptable and risks prolonging the pandemic. At the end of 2021, access to Covid-19 vaccines is still a priority. Only 5.9 % of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose (on 29 November 2021, compared with 0.3% on 14 April), with numbers in Africa remaining very low, save for Morocco. The patent waiver being discussed within the WTO since 2020 will not solve these vaccination bottlenecks in the short-term. For instance, the waiver as proposed by South Africa and India would in practice require unanimity between the 164 WTO Members to be adopted – to achieve this in practice would simply delay the waiver until after the pandemic.

Rather, measures should be undertaken to accelerate local manufacturing and distribution of vaccines in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), ramp up investment in vaccination campaigns, and facilitate the compulsory licensing of patents and knowledge transfer.

In particular, the statement advocates for (i) practical measures that could accelerate the production, export, distribution, and administration of vaccines worldwide and ii) an international mechanism affording additional scrutiny of the manufacturing bottlenecks combined with new measures in the intellectual property (IP) framework such as flexibility for the compulsory licensing of patents.

According to the experts, the current co-sponsored waiver proposal at the WTO is “not well-tailored to the urgent vaccine problem” and needs additional national legislation to have any practical effect. A WTO waiver would only remove the obligation for WTO Member States to grant IP protection, but would not ensure that stakeholders can effectively benefit from the invention and related know-how.

“A waiver (in the sense of the co-sponsored proposal at the WTO) of IP protection, including of trade secrets, would never make this know how publicly accessible, but only remove the possibility for companies enjoying confidentiality protection to sue for trade secret infringement”, the experts argued.

Other IPR measures need to be considered instead, with the WTO waiver debate raising other IP fixes that are needed in the field of health. The WTO rules on compulsory licensing of health-related patents should be amended. Important adjustments to patents and trade secret protections should also be adopted by the EU, its Member States, and other countries. In particular, improved procedures and institutional design should help to streamline the process for compulsory licensing on pharmaceutical products, including vaccines.

Source: ALLEA

WHO Criticises Omicron Travel Bans as SA Stays at Level 1

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The emergence of the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant which has resulted in renewed lockdowns and travel bans around the world, which have been criticised by the WHO. In contrast, South Africa will stick to an adjusted Level 1 lockdown for the time being, though pushing for mandatory vaccinations. Business and civil society groups had warned that increasing restrictions would have provoked backlash as recent election campaign events had effectively ignored them.

Many nations around the world have reacted quickly to the new variant, which has a large number of mutations compared to the Delta variant. The UK’s decision to suspend flights from South Africa as well as nine other African countries has provoked criticism from a number of quarters, including President Cyril Ramaphosa. The sudden move has caught many travellers by surprise, including a Welsh rugby team which had two members test positive, one of which was for Omicron. They will have to self-isolate before they are able to return, depending on flight availability.

Japan and Israel have taken the more extreme steps of closing their borders to foreigners. The first cases of Omicron that were recorded in Botswana were revealed to be in visiting diplomats, although which country they came from has not been revealed. 

The World Health Organization criticised the imposition of travel restrictions, acknowledging that although they may play a role in slightly reducing the spread of COVID, they still place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods. It pointed out that if restrictions are implemented, they should not be unnecessarily invasive or intrusive, and should be scientifically based, under international law, the International Health Regulations. It notes South Africa followed International Health Regulations, and informed WHO as soon as its national laboratory identified the Omicron variant. 

“The speed and transparency of the South African and Botswana governments in informing the world of the new variant is to be commended. WHO stands with African countries which had the courage to boldly share life-saving public health information, helping protect the world against the spread of COVID,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “On the eve of a special session on pandemic preparedness I urge all countries to respect their legal obligations and implement scientifically based public health actions. It is critical that countries which are open with their data are supported as this is the only way to ensure we receive important data in a timely manner.”

Although a full picture of the new variant’s severity is still two or three weeks away, Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association, told the AFP she had recently seen around 30 patients at her Pretoria practice who tested positive for COVID but had unfamiliar symptoms.

“What brought them to the surgery was this extreme tiredness,” she said, something she said was unusual for younger patients. Most were men under 40, and just under half were vaccinated. Other symptoms included mild muscle aches, a “scratchy throat” and dry cough, she said. Just a few had a slightly high temperature. These very mild symptoms stand in contrast to other variants, which typically result in more severe symptoms.

Miscarriage Should be Recognised as a Bereavement, Argues Psychiatrist

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A miscarriage during the first 6 months of pregnancy should be recognised as a bereavement, rather than illness in UK law, argues psychiatrist Nathan Hodson in correspondence published online in the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health.

Some MPs in the UK government have called for following in the steps of New Zealand’s policy of giving bereavement leave at  any stage of pregnancy loss, though this has been met with opposition.

The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2020 allows for two weeks’ statutory bereavement leave for a stillbirth after 24 weeks and for the loss of a child up to the age of 18 in the UK. In South Africa, the 2002 Basic Conditions of Employment Act allows for six weeks’ maternity leave for pregnancy loss after 28 weeks.

Dr Hodson pointed out that parents in these circumstances are also entitled to take maternity or shared parental leave planned before the stillbirth, giving them weeks or months to recover from their loss.

But those who miscarry before 24 weeks in the UK have no such rights, added to which the miscarriage is regarded as an illness, with entitlement to sick leave. And if this lasts longer than 7 days, a formal sick note from a doctor is required.

“This policy creates an arbitrary cliff edge at 24 weeks,” with few women who miscarry being aware of their employment rights, Dr Hodson insisted.

Presently it is not known how many miscarriages occur in the UK annually nor how much sick leave is taken for them. He acknowledges this could open up private companies to unknown costs for employee miscarriage at any stage.

A single week of statutory bereavement leave when miscarriage occurs after the 12 week scan could reduce these costs. “Miscarriage risk after 12 weeks is less than 1% so this policy would be highly targeted with a less uncertain price tag,” he explained.

And within 2 or 3 years there should be sufficient data from New Zealand to estimate the impact of the policy, which was introduced in March this year. This allows women and partners 3 days of paid leave, irrespective of how long the woman had been pregnant, but excluding abortions.

But in any case, “miscarriage should as far as possible be recognised as bereavement, not sickness, and many parents will need time off work afterwards,” wrote Dr Hodson.

“Leave following first-trimester miscarriage should be prioritised when New Zealand has published data. But whatever approach is taken with regard to early miscarriages, the cliff edge at 24 weeks is a stark injustice demanding remedy.”

Source: EurekAlert!

NHI Implementation on the Financial Rocks – For Now

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South Africa’s National Health Insurance (NHI) implementation continues to flounder, as the National Treasury notes its expenditure will not be a significant cost in the medium term. This scheme, which seeks to address the country’s huge gulf in healthcare inequality, has still made barely any progress since its inception over a decade ago.

In its Medium Term Budget Policy Statement published on Thursday (MTBPS), the Treasury said that the national health insurance policy was estimated to cost R40 billion per year in additional funding in the first five years, and perhaps considerably more over time. Therefore, it dismissed the possibility of any substantial work on it, saying that presently, “there is insufficient capacity in the health sector to work substantively on national health insurance. The national health insurance indirect grant has been underspent, the National Health Insurance Fund has not yet been established, and the National Health Insurance Bill still needs to be passed by Parliament.

“It is therefore unlikely that national health insurance will be a significant cost pressure in the medium term,” it said.

While the Department of Health has time and again reiterated its commitment to the NHI system, several studies highlight the system’s deep unpopularity among healthcare professionals. 

“To fund this, we need taxpayers,” said senior researcher Morné Malan at Solidarity Research Institute, when former Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize tabled the NHI Bill in Parliament in August 2019.

“To be a taxpayer you must be employed… only 12% of South Africans pay tax.”

In August 2021, trade union Solidarity published a report drawing on three surveys from 2018 to 2021, with 20.8% of respondents already preparing to leave.

Across the studies, the overarching response from healthcare professionals is one of uncertainty and mistrust around the NHI, with general sentiment towards the system being overwhelmingly negative.

“Almost all the respondents have serious concerns regarding the state’s ability to manage and administer the NHI,” Solidarity said. “The total administration and management of funds and decision-making will be in the hands of the state.

“Most are seriously concerned about the fact that the state can determine and enforce tariffs, place of work, type of diagnostic tests and type of medication and treatment.”

The opinions of those surveyed are likely shaped by the observed mismanagement and maladministration at state institutions such as Eskom, Solidarity noted. The NHI will be considerably larger and more complicated, and will have to manage and execute many contracts, it said.

Source: Businesstech

Healthcare Organisations Urge Review of Culpable Homicide Law

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Nine of South Africa’s leading healthcare organisations have joined together in urging the Government to begin a review of culpable homicide law and its application in a healthcare setting.

In a letter to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Hon Ronald Lamola, the coalition said there is a very low threshold in South African law for blameworthiness when a patient dies while under medical care, which has resulted in errors of judgement in complex healthcare environments being criminalised, and healthcare professionals being convicted regardless of their intent.

The joint letter calls for the review to be carried out by the South Africa Law Reform Commission, due to the complexity of criminal law in a healthcare setting and the importance of achieving a long-term solution for healthcare professionals and patients alike.

The letter says: “It is hard to see who benefits from the current system. As well as families losing a loved one through tragic circumstances, doctors risk losing their career and liberty, and the fear of criminal charges also has a negative knock-on effect on patient care. The current system stands in the way of patients receiving an early apology and a full explanation of events, and thereby denies closure.

In a recent survey of 500 doctors, 88% are worried about investigations after an adverse patient outcome, and 90% think the prospect of criminal investigation affects their mental health. Due to the prospect of criminal investigation means nearly half of all doctors in South Africa have considered leaving the profession. The letter further notes that  4 in 5 doctors surveyed think the criminal justice system in South Africa has an inadequate understanding of medical practice.

Pointing out the need for a “long-term solution”, they write: “Healthcare professionals need to be held accountable, however, criminalising errors of judgement – particularly in this fast moving and complex healthcare environment – seems unreasonably severe. Criminalisation in the absence of any clear intention to cause harm is overly punitive, leaving healthcare professionals vulnerable to criminal charges. Lessons can be learned from other jurisdictions – for example, in Scotland, where charges are only brought against doctors if an act is proved to be intentional, reckless, or grossly careless.

“Our organisations are committed to the highest level of safety for all patients in South Africa. This will however require replacing the current culture of blame and fear with one of learning, where healthcare professionals feel able to apologise and learn from mistakes, which will help to reduce the number of errors and thus enable progress on improving patient safety. When healthcare professionals are allowed and supported to learn from mistakes, lessons are learnt, and patients are better protected in the future.

Highlighting the complexity of these matters, “Patients and clinicians want the same thing, for those in need to receive the best care,” the letter concludes.

The letter was signed by Medical Protection Society, Association of Surgeons of South Africa, Federation of South Africa Surgeons, Radiological Society of South Africa, South African Medical Association, South African Medico-Legal Association, South African Private Practitioners Forum, South African Society of Anaesthesiologists and South African Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Source: Medical Protection Society