Pretoria - More than 100 doctors trained overseas have been blocked by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) from practising in South Africa because of certain policy guidelines.
They have launched urgent court proceedings in a bid to be registered as medical professionals.
The group – some of whom have been in limbo since 2019 – will turn to the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria at the end of the month.
They want to interdict the HPCSA and the Medical and Dental Professional Board from invoking the provisions of the New Pathway Policy Guideline for foreign-trained doctors, adopted in June last year, which prevents them from writing their qualifying exams.
The group said the HPCSA in any event could not hold them to those guidelines because another judge in a similar application had set aside the provisions.
The doctors said in court papers that they simply wanted to write the required clinical exams required for foreign-trained doctors, scheduled for next month.
The HPCSA, however, is refusing to enrol them for this.
The medical watchdog is disallowing them from being registered as health practitioners on the basis that they must follow the provisions of the New Pathway Policy Guideline.
Dr Nabiela Ragooloo, who qualified as a doctor at Anna Medical College in Mauritius in 2019, said in court papers that she and the other applicants were anxiously waiting to practise medicine.
However, they could not because they were being barred from writing the required entry exams in order to be registered in South Africa.
She said because the country desperately needed doctors, it was in the public interest that foreign-qualified doctors write the necessary exams so they could formally register with the HPCSA.
She said the exams should not be put on hold because of the refusal by the health body to allow them permission to partake in the exams or evaluations.
All the applicants are South African citizens and have graduated from medical training institutions based in China, Mauritius, Romania, Ukraine and Malaysia.
Ragooloo said it was apparent that the hindrance to the registration of foreign-qualified doctors was caused by the implementation of the New Pathway Policy Guideline.
Since this guideline is no longer applicable because it was earlier overturned by the court, the HPCSA has not invited them to sit for the exams.
All their enquiries in this regard remained unanswered and they now have no choice but to turn to court, she said.
“The foreign-qualified doctors’ future remains in limbo as we are barred from writing evaluation examinations and we are thus unable to earn a living.”
All the applicants studied overseas on student visas, which is only valid until they graduate, which meant they had to come back home and earn a living in their home country.
They said the application was especially urgent because they still had not been scheduled to sit for the exams which take place next month.
The HPCSA has not yet filed its answering affidavits to the application.