Doctor struck off register for sexual assault

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pretoria - The Department of Health has commended the decision by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) to strike off a doctor from its register after being found guilty of sexual assault.

Dr Charles Odidi was found guilty of sexually and indecently assaulting a female patient in an examination room at Kagiso's Leratong Hospital in 2009, following an investigation by the Professional Conduct Committee.

Deputy Health Minister Dr Gwen Ramokgopa said the department shared the deep concern of the HPCSA about the increase in the number of sexually related complaints lodged against healthcare practitioners, warning that the department will not tolerate health professionals who betray the trust of patients.

"The department supports the action taken by the HPCSA as it will send a strong message to the public that acts of this nature will not be tolerated by the HPCSA and the Department of Health ... we will take strong action against those doctors," Ramokgopa said.

She said regardless of the small number of sexual misconduct registered by the HPCSA, the department viewed them in a serious light, as their conduct has the potential to tarnish the image of the health profession.

Currently, the HPCSA has over 180 000 members registered with it and of these, only about 35 complaints relating to sexual misconduct have been lodged with the body since 2006. 

"The department, however, takes comfort in the knowledge that the majority of health practitioners are men and women of outstanding ethical standing, who conduct themselves professionally," she said. - BuaNews