HPCSA wraps up case against Noakes

By Renee Moodie Time of article published Feb 10, 2016

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Cape Town - The Health Professions Council of South Africa has wrapped up its case against Professor Tim Noakes.

Noakes is due to take the stand shortly. Bioethics lecturer Professor Willem Pienaar has finished giving evidence to the HPCSA disciplinary committee into the professional conduct of the sports scientist.

The hearing arises from a Twitter exchange in February 2014 in which the low carb high fat (LCHF) diet was discussed in relation to breastfeeding mothers and weaning babies.

Committee members put various questions to Pienaar before the pro forma complainant rested their case.

Dr Janet Giddy asked Pienaar what he would say to Noakes if he could rewind the clock. Pienaar replied; “I would like to say you are making a mistake, this is the action of a clinician, social media is not private, you are making a mistake. You cannot give advice before consultation. I think he made a mistake. We need to sort out the rules for social media. A mistake, he acted as a clinician.”

Chairwoman Joan Adams asked if Pienaar was saying that nutritional advice was medical advice?

“There are diets and diets - but for a neonate, infant, baby falls into the field of medicine. Not saying unethical to give nutritional advice. Prof Noakes is a doctor so he cannot not act as a doctor,” Pienaar said.

He said that Noakes was well known nationally and internationally. “So should a lay person ask him a question he cannot not answer as medical practitioner. He is always a doctor.”

Dr Giddy then asked if the other professionals who had given advice on social media should also be reported and charged. Should Noakes be disciplined more than the others because he is well known, she asked.

Pienaar said: “There are most probably there are many perpatrators of this kind, giving advice on social media. This is maybe a test case, a moral case, the Council needs to lay down rules, how are we going to manage this? There are a lot of unanswered questions.”


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