Letters

Dear Editor


BAR COUNCIL

Who guards the guardians?

In January last year Noseweek reader Jaron Tobias lodged a complaint with the Johannesburg Bar Council (see nose153) concerning the alleged misconduct of both the advocate who appeared for him, Tobias, as the plaintiff, Nigel Riley, and the defendant’s advocate, G D Wickens, in a case heard in the South Gauteng High Court.

Over a year-and-a-half later, he sent the Bar Council a note asking about the outcome of their enquiry. No joy. Another six months on, he asked again. Here is the meaningless reply he received (on 11 February) from the secretary of that gathering of legal worthies: 

“As I recall I said I would inform the Secretary and Chairman of the Professional sub-committee of your query on the status of the matter. I have done so. Once there is any further update on the matter you will be notified. Pam Irvine”

We will continue to record the days, weeks, months and years that pass as a measure of the Johannesburg Bar Council’s shameless cowardice when it comes to policing its own.Ed.

PREDATORY HEALTH CARTELS

Not guilty as charged

Noseweek’s article, “The cost of predatory health cartels” (nose159) made allegations around collusive, unethical and illegal behaviour by most private health sector players (healthcare providers and suppliers of medical products in particular). Although the article admits that “there are companies – if few and far between – that refuse to conduct business in an unethical and illegal way”, it attempts to establish a veiled association between Mediclinic (and other companies) and questionable business processes.

Mediclinic states categorically that we do not sell information or shelf space to pharmaceutical industry players, nor engage in any form of rebate or discount (on invoice) system with suppliers of medicine or medical devices. Since 2004, Mediclinic converted to a “Net Acquisition Price” (NAP) model for all its pharmaceutical products. This means the prices charged to patients or medical schemes for pharmaceutical products are exactly the same Mediclinic pays for these products and makes no profit on them.

In addition, Mediclinic has worked to actively reduce equipment placement in our facilities, which now stands at less than 1% of total acquired capital equipment. Mediclinic does not and has never entered into any contractual arrangements around the purchase of associated consumables. All consumables associated with any “placed” equipment are purchased at the prevailing market prices.

There is a difference between the public and private sector medicine prices because the private health sector purchases medicines at regulated Single Exit Prices (SEP), while the public sector is not subject to this regulation and is allowed to put out tenders for the supply of medicines.

Lastly, the article incorrectly states that the Department of Health relies on a budget of R42 billion to provide care to 42 million South Africans. Mediclinic supports the principle of greater access to affordable healthcare through the introduction of NHI and while there is a comparative inequality in spend, public information from the Treasury shows that in the 2011/2012 financial year, public sector health expenditure amounted to R122bn.

We trust this will address any misconceptions created by the article and would like to request an opportunity to respond before publication in future.

Jessica Saunders
Mediclinic Southern Africa
Stellenbosch

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