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HEALTHCARE

Long walk to refunds — double deductions and frustrations with the Health Professions Council of SA

Long walk to refunds — double deductions and frustrations with the Health Professions Council of SA

Registration fees for the Health Professions Council of South Africa were deducted twice in 2022, leaving many healthcare practitioners awaiting a refund which some fear may never come.

Healthcare practitioners in the public sector pay an annual registration fee to the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) which allows them to operate. 

The annual deadline for these fees is in April; however, a second deduction took place in June — directly from their salaries, several sources told Daily Maverick. This double deduction was an unintended consequence of the HPCSA’s switch to a new Persal payment system, said HPCSA spokesperson Christopher Tsatsawane. 

Practitioners could apply for a refund or carry the credit over to the following year. 

“Our finance department makes refunds within 30 days after receipt of a complaint refund request,” he added. 

“I put through the refund request on the 18th of August. So, it’s been over three months,” said a healthcare practitioner, who wished to remain anonymous and is still waiting for the refund. 

“I uploaded my [refund] forms on to [the HPCSA] portal in September 2022. I was told that it takes ‘up to 40 days’ for the refund to be processed. I followed up numerous times with their call centre agency, sent many emails, escalated the matter to multiple supervisors and eventually the CEO,” said another source, also still waiting for the refund. 

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Several other healthcare practitioners shared similar experiences. The long wait is because of a high volume of refund requests which were received during April and July, claimed Tsatsawane.

“This process takes long, as it is still currently a manual process, and we hope to have this automated to reduce timelines,” he said. 

But practitioners say the fee-paying process had been seamless in previous years. 

In a statement, the South African Medical Association (Sama) called the HPCSA a “dysfunctional council” and called for its unbundling. 

“Doctors should not be expected to subsidise the operational bloat and mismanagement of an organisation that consistently keeps failing to fulfil its mandate and provide basic services,” read the statement. 

Those affected by the double deductions are as disappointed with the HPCSA. 

“They are meant to hold us to a higher account, but they are unable to do so for themselves,” said one source, while another said the HPCSA did not “seem intent on paying it back”. DM/MC  

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Mari Bekker says:

    I just wonder what is happening to all the interest from all the extra money in their account(s), because if you do the math, it is a significant amount of money (Registration fees x health workers employed in government).

    The other huge frustration was the lack of clear communication in March/April when annual registration fees were due, namely whether automatic deductions would be happening or not.

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