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National Health Act, 2003 (Act No. 61 of 2003)

Chapter 10 : Office of Health Standards Compliance, Board, Inspections and Environmental Health Investigations, Health Officers and Inspectors, Complaints and Appeal Procedures

81A. Functions of Ombud


(1) The Ombud may, on receipt of a written or verbal complaint relating to norms and standards, or on his or her own initiative, consider, investigate and dispose of the complaint in a fair, economical and expeditious manner.


(2) A complaint referred to in subsection (1) may involve an act or omission by a person in charge of or employed by a health establishment or any facility or place providing a health service.


(3) In conducting an investigation, the Ombud may, subject to subsection (8)—
(a) be assisted by any person contemplated in section 81(2)(c);


(i) obtain an affidavit or a declaration from any person;
(ii) direct any person to appear before him or her;
(iii) direct any person to give evidence or produce any document in his or her possession or under his or her control which has a bearing on the matter under consideration or being investigated; and
(iv) interrogate such person;
(c) request an explanation from any person whom he or she reasonably suspects of having information which has a bearing on a matter under consideration or which is being or to be investigated; and
(d) require any person appearing as a witness to give evidence under oath or after having made an affirmation.


(4) A direction contemplated in subsection (3)(b) may be by way of a subpoena containing particulars of the matter in connection with which the person subpoenaed is required to appear before the Ombud and served on the person subpoenaed either by a registered letter sent through the post or by delivery by a person authorised thereto by the Ombud.


(5) If it appears to the Ombud that any person is being implicated in the matter being investigated, the Ombud must afford such person an opportunity to be heard in connection therewith by way of the giving of evidence, and such person is entitled, through the Ombud, to question other witnesses, determined by the Ombud, who have appeared before the Ombud in terms of this section.


(6) The Ombud may, when considering or investigating a complaint in terms of this section, require the assistance of or refer the complaint to any other authority established in terms of legislation or any other appropriate and suitable body or entity to investigate similar complaints.


(7) The authority, body or entity, as the case may be, contemplated in subsection (6) must provide—
(a) the Ombud with the assistance required; and
(b) report to the Ombud on the progress made in relation to complaints referred to it.


(8) No self-incriminating answer given or statement made by any person to the Ombud exercising powers in terms of this Act, is admissible as evidence against that person in criminal proceedings against that person instituted in any court, except in criminal proceedings for perjury or in which that person is tried for an offence contemplated in this Act, and then only to the extent that the answer or statement is relevant to prove the offence charged.


(9) After each investigation, the Ombud must submit a report together with his or her recommendations on appropriate action to the Chief Executive Officer.


(10) Where the Chief Executive Officer fails to act in accordance with the findings and recommendations of the Ombud, the Ombud may request the intervention of the Minister.


(11) The Ombud must, after the conclusion of an investigation, inform the complainant or the respondent or both, as the case may be, of his or her findings and recommendations.


[Section 81A amended by section 5 of Act No. 12 of 2013]