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HPCSA Complaints Process Explained

As a regulatory body, the HPCSA is tasked to protect the public and guide the professions by upholding professional and ethical standards within the health professions and ensure the investigation of complaints concerning practitioners and to ensure that disciplinary action is taken against persons who fail to act accordingly. In this article we explain the process of what happens once a complaint is lodged.

HPCSA Complaints Process


Screening and categorisation

The complaints go through a screening process to establish if the practitioner is registered with HPCSA and whether the complainant has provided comprehensive details relating to the allegations.

After screening, a process of perusal, analysis and categorisation takes place. Then a complaint is registered against the name of the practitioner and referred for either mediation or preliminary investigation depending on the transgression.


A mediator will engage with the practitioner regarding the allegations with a view of resolving the matter. The success of the mediation process is dependent on whether the two parties agree to the determination. If the parties agree, the matter is considered closed, however, where parties do not agree the matter will be referred for preliminary investigation.

Preliminary investigation

A notice together with the complaint is sent to the practitioner to respond to the allegations. The written response must be received within 40 working days. The investigator will table the complaint, any further information, and the written response to the Preliminary Committee of Inquiry for consideration. If the practitioner fails to provide the written response, the matter will be tabled before the committee and the committee will be informed of the failure to respond. In some cases, an onsite investigation will be conducted prior to sending the notice to establish facts.

Preliminary inquiry

The Preliminary Committee of Inquiry will consider the matter and decide whether there is evidence of unprofessional conduct or not. In a case where there is evidence of unprofessional conduct, the committee will decide whether the transgression is minor or serious. If a transgression is minor, the committee will impose a penalty as prescribed and if serious the matter will be referred for an inquiry to be held. In a case where there is no evidence of unprofessional conduct, the committee will note and accept the explanation and the matter will be closed.

Execution of Penalties Imposed by the Committee

In cases where a penalty has been imposed, a notice of charges will be sent to the practitioner to either accept or reject the charges. The response must be received within 14 days upon receipt of the notice of charges.

If the practitioner accepts the charges and payment made in a case of a fine the matter will be finalised and closed. If the practitioner rejects the charges or fails to respond within 14 days, the matter will be referred for an inquiry to be held.

Factors Contributing to Delays
  • Failure To Respond to Notification Relating to Allegations of Unprofessional Conduct

In terms of Regulation 4(1) of regulations relating to conduct of inquiries into alleged unprofessional conduct under the Health Professions Act of 1974, the practitioner must provide response to the allegations of unprofessional conduct within 40 working days. Council has observed that most practitioners are failing to respond to Council regarding allegations of unprofessional conduct within the stipulated time. This contributes to delays in the management of complaints by Council.

Practitioners are advised that failure to respond will constitute contempt of Council and a penalty may be imposed.

  • Failure to update contact details

In terms of Section 18(3) of the Health Professions Act, 56 of 1974, every registered person who changes his or her contact details shall in writing notify the Registrar within 30 days.

Council has also observed that one of the reasons provided by the practitioners for not responding to Council within 40 working days is that their contact details has changed however, the same was not communicated to Council. Practitioners are advised that failure to comply with the updating of the contact details will constitute an offence to the provision of the Act.

Practitioners are reminded to respond to any correspondence from Council within the stipulated period and update their contact details in line with the Act.

Last Updated on 10 November 2023 by HPCSA Corporate Affairs