GEMS, Healthcare Funders interdict release of report into racial profiling of doctors

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Judgement has been reserved in the urgent application to stop the release of an investigative report into racial profiling of doctors.

The Gauteng High Court held an urgent virtual sitting into the merits of the urgent interdict by the Government Employees Medical Schemes (GEMS) and the Healthcare Funders.

The Section 59 report, compiled by Adv Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, was supposed to be released on Sunday, but was stopped by the urgent interdict application.

South Africa’s biggest medical scheme, GEMS argued that the Section 59 investigative report contains scathing findings against GEMS that will have severe repercussions for the scheme.

They argued that it is not within the powers of Section 59 to release the report. They also argued that releasing the report would cause them irreparable harm, be prejudicial to them and damage their reputation. They say it is not stated in the Section 59 panel’s founding terms of reference that the report should be made public.

The panel held public hearings from July 2019 to January 2020:

GEMS and Healthcare Funders also argued that the report should only be handed over to the Council of Medical Aids and that they should be given enough time to respond to the contents of the report.

The two bodies want the report to be interdicted pending an application for a declarator to determine the exact powers and functions of the Section 59 panel.

Council for the Section 59 panel, however emphasised that there was no basis for the urgent application since GEMS had ample time to stop the release of the probe report, but failed to act.

They argued the urgency cited by the applicants was self created and asked the court to dismiss the application as they knew as far back as last year that the report would be released to the public.

The Section 59 investigation report was supposed to be released late last year, but was postponed several times and finally scheduled for release on Sunday.

The probe started in 2019, following several allegations by medical practitioners, of racial discrimination allegedly by medical schemes and administrators.

Medical aids respond to racism allegations: