Dr. Phuthego’s medical qualifications questioned


Renowned Gaborone medical practitioner Dr. Motsholathebe Phuthego has come out vehemently to quash suggestions he could be practicing as Specialist Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon without appropriate academic qualifications in that field.
Phuthego’s academic qualifications came under scrutiny during a case at the Lobatse High Court involving Dr. Rotlhe Boalotswe who was denied registration by the Botswana Health Professions Council (BHPC) despite meeting registration requirements. Dr. Boalotswe queries in his papers that his troubles with BHPC started when he refused to be supervised by Dr. Phuthego during his time at Marina Hospital as he was of the view that the latter was unqualified to supervise him as a maxillofacial surgeon.
BHPC in turn instructed him to submit proof of his allegation that Dr. Phuthego was not qualified to practice as a specialist Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon.  On May 4, 2015, the disgruntled doctor submitted a 5-page report to the Registrar of BHPC outlining why he felt Phuthego was not a qualified surgeon. Providing a background in his court papers of his run-ins with the BHPC, the doctor wrote in part, “This came after I had tried with no success to alert the BHPC registrar of the fact that Dr. Phuthego wasn’t qualified to supervise me as they had suggested. My registration would later on be rescinded on the basis I had no supervisor, due to the fact that Dr. Phuthego had left government for private practice.’’
According Dr. Boalotswe’s court papers, Dr. Phuthego does not meet the minimum requirement as per the BHPC Act which requires practitioners who have qualified from universities outside Botswana to be recognized as specialists from the country in which those universities are located.  ‘’In short the qualification should be the standard of training in a particular field (in this case Oral and maxillofacial Surgery) from that country. In Dr. Phuthego’s case that is not the case, he was not enrolled in any specialized training in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery’’, reads part of the letter to the registrar.
He also stated that he found it to be “an insult of the highest order” for BHPC to appoint Dr. Phuthego to supervise, appraise and recommend despite his inadequacies. In his affidavit, he states that Dr. Phuthego, who now runs his private practice and consults at the country’s two major private hospitals, Bokamoso and Gaborone Private Hospital, only completed a foundational course and “didn’t go ahead to start specialist training in the UK in the area of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery like any other UK trained PMFS surgeon would.” It is further alleged that Dr. Phuthego does not meet the Royal College of Surgeons of England requirements.
When this publication confronted Phuthego with these allegations, he argued that he was qualified: “I came back to work in 2005, having finished my training as a specialist in Oral and Surgeon and registered with the Botswana Health Professions Council. I practiced like that and promoted to consultant until 2013 when I left for private practice. For those 8 years I was the only practicing Maxillofacial Surgeon for the whole country and performed more than a five hundred surgeries a year without any limitation. In those 8 years, I have done a minimum of 4000 surgeries of different kinds on the facial skeleton,’’ he wrote in response to The Botswana Gazette enquiries. He said his specialty surgical training was done through the University College of London Hospitals and Clinics from 2002 to 2004. “By then it was called a compressed program,” he explained. He said his training was run under a program that was spearheaded by a certain Professor Malcolm Harris who “unfortunately retired and the program was discontinued just due to the normal curriculum reviews and streamlining of training programs.”
Dr. Phuthego further added that the requirement was for one to have worked under a specialist for a minimum of 5 years and be able to produce a log book of all the cases observed, assisted and done. “For me I qualified since I had worked from 1997 to 2001 at Princess Marina working with a specialist with my logbook,” he said.
As part of The Botswana Gazette investigations, this publication and contacted the Royal College of Surgeons of England who responded that Speciality Training lasts five years with an exit Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) examination. ‘’The FRCS is a requirement for speciality registrars to be awarded a Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and register with the General Medical Council (GMC) and appear on the OMFS list,’’ reads part of the response from the Royal College of Surgeons.
The response also states that one has to start with Surgical Core Training (CT1 AND CT2) which is designed to give a surgeon experience in performing different surgical procedures. After two years, surgeons may sit the Intercollegiate Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons exam; this is a requirement to enter speciality training in OMFS.
This publication can confirm that while Dr. Phuthego practices as a Specialist Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon in Botswana through his “specialist experience”- without having met the examination requirements of the Royal College of Surgeons of England does not qualify as a specialist in the United Kingdom.
This publication has also studied the Botswana Health Professions Council Act which states that qualifications from a university or other institution outside Botswana shall not be accepted as qualifications for registration unless “the qualification entitles the holder thereof to practice in the relevant profession in the country in which such university or institution is situated.’’ The act however goes on to state “and the Council is satisfied that the possession of such qualification indicates a standard of professional education not lower than that required by the Council for practice of such a profession in Botswana.”
The Botswana Health Professions Council did not respond to our enquiries sent three weeks back.