Lodging a Complaint
The Council holds the view that a person registered with the Council should at all times endeavour to act in the interests of promoting public health. A pharmacist should maintain and enhance the honour and dignity of pharmacy and refrain from any activity which may discredit his/her profession. The Council is empowered to inquire into and deal with any complaint, charge or allegation which may be brought before it in any manner whatsoever.
Any person(s) who observes or experiences unprofessional conduct or unethical behaviour on the part of a person registered with the Council may report such conduct to the Council in terms of the following procedure:
Receiving a complaint
- A letter or complaint should be forwarded to the Registrar of the SAPC. Postal address: Private Bag 40040, Arcadia, 0007. Physical address: 591 Belvedere Street, Arcadia, Pretoria. Fax number: (012) 321 1479/92. E-mail address: email@example.com;
- The complaint must be in writing and signed by the complainant, his or her legal representative, or any other person lodging the complaint on behalf of the complainant (although Council does investigate anonymous complaints);
- The complaint itself must be comprehensive, containing all the relevant dates and facts and supported by relevant documentation and other evidence, where possible;
- At least the following information must be supplied:
- Complainant’s name, mail delivery address and contact telephone number;
- Name of the person(s) against whom the complaint is lodged;
- Name of the pharmacy;
- Nature of the complaint;
- Date and time of the incident(s).
Click here to access the Complaints Form
- On receipt of the complaint the Registrar must investigate it thoroughly and, if he or she is of the opinion that it constitutes prima facie proof of unprofessional conduct, inform the registered person (respondent) of the complaint and request a written explanation from him or her. The respondent may refuse to provide an explanation but, if provided, the complainant may request the Registrar for a copy of the respondent’s reply;
- The Registrar can decide that a further inquiry would not be appropriate and inform the complainant and the respondent accordingly or refer the matter to a Committee of Preliminary Investigation (CPI) with a recommendation as to whether or not the complaint should proceed to an informal inquiry or a formal inquiry.
- The CPI will decide whether there are grounds for the holding of an informal inquiry or a formal inquiry or not;
- If not, the matter will be considered finalised and the relevant parties will be informed in writing accordingly;
- The CPI will take the following factors into consideration in reaching a decision:
- The nature of the complaint;
- The consequences of the alleged unprofessional conduct for the complainant, the general public, the Council, the respondent, the pharmacy profession, or any other interested party;
- The penalty which it foresees could be imposed by the Committee of Informal Inquiry (CII) or the Committee of Formal Inquiry (CFI) if the respondent is found guilty of unprofessional conduct.
- If the CPI decides that an informal inquiry should be held:
- A notice will be served on the respondent containing a proposed consent order (a finding that may be made and penalty that may be imposed by the CII in terms of an agreement between itself, the pro forma complainant and the respondent in terms of which the respondent is notified to attend an informal inquiry);
- It will appoint a pro forma complainant to represent the actual complainant in an informal inquiry;
- If it is of the opinion that it would be appropriate to hold a formal inquiry it will appoint a pro forma complainant to represent the actual complainant and present the complaint at a formal inquiry, and the pro forma complainant will have the right to appoint a legal representative to assist him or her;
- On receiving the decision (notice) of the CPI the respondent will be entitled to:
- Agree with the contents of the consent order in writing in which case the CII will make a finding and impose a penalty in accordance with the consent order;
- If he or she disagrees with the contents of the consent order indicate in writing that he or she would prefer to present his or her case to the CII in order to amend the consent order (no legal representation will be allowed);
- If, however, he or she prefers that the complaint be adjudicated by the CFI, he or she must again indicate such preference in writing.
- In instances where the respondent fails to exercise any of the abovementioned options, or fails to respond to the notice of the CPI, the CII will refer the matter for inquiry by the CFI;
- The complainant, as well as the respondent, usually give evidence during an inquiry held by the CFI. The complainant is represented by the pro forma complainant appointed by the CII. A legal assessor is appointed to assist the CFI on issues of law, evidence and procedure;
- The complainant will not be responsible for the costs of the proceedings;
- The proceedings during such an inquiry are open to the public and the media.
Should the respondent be found guilty of unprofessional conduct, the following penalties may be imposed:
- A reprimand or caution, or a reprimand and a caution; or
- Suspension for a specified period from practising or performing acts specifically pertaining to his or her profession; or
- Removal of his or her name from the relevant register; or
- A fine not exceeding R25 000,00 per charge.
The CFI may also order the respondent to pay the costs of the proceedings to a maximum of R25 000,00. It is important to note that the SAPC cannot order the respondent to make any financial restitution to the complainant. However, a complainant is at liberty to institute civil litigation proceedings independently in respect of a complaint lodged with the SAPC. This publication is aimed at informing members of the public about
- Their rights as patients;
- The rights of persons registered with the SAPC as respondents;
- The SAPC’s disciplinary procedures; and
- Guidelines for lodging a complaint when necessary.