The ‘House call with Dr Joe’ column on the Gems website has been taken down just days after TimesLIVE ran a story about how PR staffers from Martina Nicholson Associates were allegedly the ones offering medical health advice and not a qualified doctor as perceived.
Health Professions Council of SA spokesperson Priscilla Sekhonyana said they were investigating the allegations about the column.
“The HPCSA is currently investigating the matter and once it has been finalised I will inform you accordingly,” she said.
The Government Employee Medical Scheme (Gems) had insisted that the answers had all been supplied by qualified medical practitioners.
Company owner, Martina Nicholson, had last week forwarded a response from Gems chief healthcare officer, Vuyo Gqola, who said: “All content is approved by medical doctors, both prior to being sent on to the member by Gems and also prior to being placed on the website by Gems.”
Nicholson herself had dismissed TimesLIVE claims that she used lay people to offer medical advice to Gems members, stating that the scathing allegations were made by a disgruntled former employee.
She later said her staffers only wrote the top and bottom of the answers.
“The work we do here at MNA is actually only a very small part of an extensive process,” she said.
Several doctors approached by TimesLIVE pointed out mistakes in numerous answers including one about the cancer risk associated with asymmetric breasts.
A pharmacist said some of the answers were also problematic because they suggested treatments.
Diagnosing and treating people over the internet without a full examination and medical history is illegal.