Johannesburg - The new price guidelines for medical practitioners, announced by the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) just last week, have been put on hold.

The tariffs were set to act as a benchmark against which doctors, dentists and specialists could charge their patients. But the publication of these fees in the Government Gazette has now been delayed, allegedly because medical practitioners were not consulted in drawing them up.

On Wednesday, The Star reported that the guidelines were brought about after numerous complaints about overcharging.

But the SA Medical Association (Sama) and the SA Private Practitioners Forum (SAPPF) warned that the proposed tariffs vastly underestimated the cost of procedures and excluded about 1 000. Patients would have to pay for these out of their own pockets.

In a press statement issued yesterday, HPCSA president Sam Mokgokong said the delay in publication was owing to:

* Accusations that the tariffs had been determined without input from practitioner organisations;

* The threat of legal action against the HPCSA if the tariffs were published in the Government Gazette; and

* The risk of destabilising health-care delivery in the country.

The guidelines would instead be discussed at an HPCSA Council meeting next month. “This delay will allow Sama, the South African Dental Association and the SAPPF to put their views directly to the council,” said Mokgokong. - The Star