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The contentious tariff guidelines for 2012 were published following wide consultation with role players and service providers, the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) said on Tuesday.

HPCSA Ombudsman Dr Abdul Wahab Barday told reporters in Pretoria that although it was not a legal necessity, consultations were held before the tariffs were determined.

“The task team (of the HPCSA) did consult with stakeholders and service providers in the profession in order to ensure a transparent process,” he said.

“Whilst this is not a legal requirement, the HPCSA consulted the department of health, the Council for Medical Schemes and the Compensation Fund.”

He said other role players included the SA Medical Association and SA Dental Association (Sada), which represents dentists. The Government Employees Medical Scheme and Discovery Health were also consulted in the development of the tariffs.

Barday said the formulation of the tariff regime was caused by complaints being raised by members of the public relating to medical practitioners overcharging them.

“The ultimate purpose of developing the guideline tariffs is to ensure an accessible, affordable and sustainable health care system in terms of the Constitution,” he said.

The tariffs, which are already applicable, are accessible on the HPCSA website and will be published in the Government Gazette on August 17.

They are for use as a yardstick by medical practitioners and can be exceeded only when there is consent from the patient.

Practitioners are placed under obligation to inform patients of the applicable HPCSA tariffs, to provide the patient with their specific fee and to proceed with treatment only after getting “an informed consent” from the client or a next-of-kin.

On Sunday, Sada said it was dismayed by the HPCSA tariff guidelines.

Spokeswoman Maretha Smit said the announcement of the tariffs, which happened last week, had taken Sada by surprise.

The HPCSA had met with both Sada and the SA Medical Association earlier in the year.

“It is now evident that these meetings were merely an attempt to tick the box of consultation and were not in any way conducted in good faith,” Smit said.

The HPCSA used the 2006 national health reference price list, which was determined by the Council for Medical Scheme in conjunction with the national health department as a baseline, and added an inflator of 46,66 percent.

In 2010, courts declared invalid the 2007 national health reference price list, which was based on the 2006 list.

The 2012 guidelines published by the HPCSA were the first price list published since then.

The HPCSA is a statutory body which regulates health professions in the country. - Sapa