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Council for Medical Schemes says inquiry will probe bullying, 'use of hidden cameras'

The Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) has announced that Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi will chair a four-month investigation into allegations of racial profiling against black and Indian private medical practitioners by medical aids, including allegations of the "use of hidden cameras".

The CMS regulates private health financing though medical aid schemes.

In mid-May, the council announced that it would be moving forward with the investigation, after members of the National Health Care Professionals Association complained they were being unfairly treated and their claims "withheld by medical aid schemes based on the colour of their skin and ethnicity". The NHCPA is a body that represents medical practitioners.

In a statement on Tuesday Dr Sipho Kabane, the chief executive officer and registrar of the CMS, described Ngcukaitobi as a "respected legal mind". He will be assisted by advocates Adila Hassim and Kerry Williams.

The investigating panel will probe allegations of racial profiling, blacklisting for payments, blocked payments, demands of confidential clinical information, "bullying and harassment, coercion, entrapment and use of hidden cameras".

"Our mandate is to measure the quality and outcomes of relevant health-care services by medical schemes, and to investigate complaints and settle disputes in relation to the affairs of medical schemes as provided for in the Medical Schemes Act," said Kabane. 

The inquiry will take place under section 59 of the Medical Schemes Act.

The probe will receive written submissions from interested parties until June 2019. Interviews and public hearings will be conducted between July and September 2019. The final report will be delivered by the Investigating Panel on November 1, 2019.