Limpopo health MEC Phophi Ramathuba has been reprimanded by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) for shouting at a Zimbabwean patient in a Limpopo provincial hospital in August.
Ramathuba was cited for unprofessional conduct and unbecoming behaviour.
Though Ramathuba was at the hospital in her capacity as a health MEC, and not a practising doctor, she is a medical doctor by profession.
The EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, in his capacity as the party’s Limpopo provincial convener, laid a complaint with the HPCSA against Ramathuba, accusing her of violating the dignity and human rights of the patient.
“This follows a disturbing video clip which is circulating on social media where she is seen belittling and abusing a Zimbabwean patient in Bela-Bela Hospital,” said Ndlozi.
“It is evident on the video that MEC Ramathuba has violated her core ethical values and standards for good practice as outlined by Health Professionals Council of South Africa,” he said and quoted the council’s set standards for healthcare practitioners.
These include respect for people: “healthcare practitioners should respect patients as people, and acknowledge their intrinsic worth, dignity, and sense of value”.
They also call on healthcare practitioners not to harm or act against the best interests of patients, even when the interests of the latter conflict with their own self-interest.
The standards require healthcare practitioners to recognise the human rights of all individuals and to be sensitive to, and empathise with, the individual and social needs of their patients and seek to create mechanisms for providing comfort and support where appropriate and possible.
“There is no doubt that the MEC has violated all the above-mentioned ethical values and standards. It is for this reason that the EFF calls upon the HPCSA to investigate her conduct and appropriate action be taken against her,” said Ndlozi.
In a video on social media, Ramathuba could be heard telling the patient that migrants were to blame for her department’s stretched budget. Her words sparked a debate in the country, with some in support while others felt she was unfair on the patient.
The HPCSA’s first medical and dental committee resolved last month that there was evidence of unprofessional conduct on Ramathuba in terms of the regulations under the Health Professions Act.
In a report dated February 9, the council said it would “impose as a penalty a caution and reprimand” on Ramathuba “for unprofessional behaviour and unbecoming [conduct] of a medical professional [for] shouting at a patient’s bedside as the patient was vulnerable at the time”.
Ramathuba’s spokesperson Thilivhali Muavha was not available for comment.