A DOCTOR jailed for medical malpractice in the United Kingdom for putting thousands of patients at risk of contracting hepatitis B is now working in an Eastern Cape hospital.
Congo-born Dr Daniel Mutunda, chief medical officer at the Wilhelm Stahl Hospital in Middelburg, knowingly consulted patients while he had hepatitis B, a potentially deadly disease.
He was jailed for 18 months by a British court in April 2007.
The court found that Mutunda had asked a friend to provide a blood sample for him after a routine test showed he had the virus.
He was jailed by the Hull Crown Court after admitting to having falsely claimed to be medically fit.
He was also suspended in 2004 after an investigation by the UK's General Medical Council (GMC), but continued to work, securing employment through an agency.
Health Professions Council (HPCSA) chief executive Dr Buyiswa Mjamba-Matshoba said Mutunda had been reregistered with the HPCSA in July last year as a medical practitioner in the public service category.
"The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates [ECFMG] verified Dr Mutunda's qualification [and] transcripts as well as the Certificate of Standing-Status issued in November 2010 by the regulatory body in the DRC," Mjamba-Matshoba said.
She said the HPCSA reregistered Mutunda after receiving this verification. "A Certificate of Standing-Status issued by the foreign registration authority where the applicant is currently registered indicates whether the practitioner is in good standing with that regulatory body or not.
"We have not received correspondence from our sister body in the UK regarding his [being struck] off the register in the UK."
This was denied by GMC spokeswoman Bree Sutton, who said the medical council routinely notified international regulators and health bodies, including those in South Africa, about the outcome of fitness to practise hearings when a doctor was erased from its register. Sutton said the HPCSA had been informed of Mutunda's case.
"We send out a monthly alert of fitness to practise decisions listing doctors who have been erased from our register and details on why," she said.
Provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo confirmed that Mutunda worked at Wilhelm Stahl, but said the hospital had not been aware of his criminal conviction or his medical condition.
"It is not mandatory for a doctor to disclose his medical record when applying for a job."
Kupelo said no action would be taken against Mutunda because the offences for which he had been jailed in Britain were not offences in South Africa.
Nikki Jackson, from Hull Combined Courts Centre, said Mutunda had pleaded guilty to three counts of "obtaining pecuniary advantage for self by deception" and had been sentenced to 18 months in prison in April 2007.
Mutunda admitted on Monday that he had spent time in a British jail. "I was convicted, but never disclosed this to the department," he said. "It is not mandatory for me to disclose my medical record. I did test for HIV but not for hepatitis B." When asked about his criminal record, he referred the questions to his lawyers.