ALLOWING MEDICAL GRADUATES TO TAKE QUALIFYING EXAMS – July 3, 2019

The LRC represented 77 South African medical graduates, who had acquired their medical qualifications abroad and sought admission to practice in South Africa. To practice as a medical professional, graduates must pass a board examination given by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).


The HPCSA forced the LRC’s clients to wait months and in some cases years before they were permitted to write the board examination. When the LRC intervened, the HPCSA responded that it had imposed a limit of 120 graduates allowed to take the exams during one of its two scheduled examinations each year. The HPCSA did not explain whether the limit was due to capacity constraints of the venues selected for the examinations, but the LRC argued that the imposition of a limit on the number of exam taken was arbitrary and inconsistent with the Health Professions Act, especially given the lack of qualified medical professionals in South Africa’s public health sector.

After extensive communication, the LRC indicated that it would begin legal proceedings unless all graduates who satisfied the minimum requirements were permitted to write the examinations. On the eve of launching those legal proceedings, the HPCSA agreed that the medical graduates would be permitted to write the examinations at the next sitting, which is scheduled for October or November of 2019. Each medical graduate has received notification of the date on which he or she will be taking the board examination. The HPCSA also agreed to convene an additional sitting of the board examination to ensure that all compliant graduates would have the opportunity to take the examination.

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