Am I qualified?

One thing I didn’t mention is how labyrinthine the registration system to validate your medical qualifications for SA is. Apart from a standard form documenting your qualifications and experience they require notarised versions of every relevant document:- degree certificate, postgraduate qualifications, specialist accreditation, passport etc. They ask for originals but the notary public does photocopies and notarises those. Notarising itself is a nice little earner. In theory each document costs £100 to notarise. Fortunately I managed to get a bulk discount. Intriguingly the wording in the letter from the notary which accompanies all your photocopies – all neatly bound with a red ribbon and a red wax seal – states that the notary has not made any attempt to prove that these documents are genuine, or words to that effect. No room for fraud then.

Notaries public are apparently two a penny in France where lots of documents undergo this form of validation but you have to search quite hard for your local one in the UK. Two witnesses with passports and utility bills have to come and swear that you are who you say you are. On the form the Health Board sends you it says the witnesses signatures can be validated by a Justice of the Peace (free) so I did that. However the form is wrong and surprise surprise it has to be a notary (ching ching). Utility bills don’t include mobile phone bills for some obscure reason, neither can you download another utility bill from the web at the notary’s office because downloads aren’t accepted. Given that every utility and other provider is now giving discounts for paperless online billing then getting hard copies of bills is becoming more and more tricky so this anachronism is going to have to change. Actually it’s rubbish anyway as if you download and print off a PDF of your utility bill before you go to the notary they can’t tell whether it arrived in the post or online.

I thought it would be a good move to have my two witnesses as doctors of African origin, so thank you, Sani and Tumenah.

It is fair to say that they do treat everyone the same. They are obviously more used to recently qualified energetic young things with minimal experience coming over there and I am something of an anomaly having qualified over 30 years ago. Just because two of my referees are knights of the realm also shouldn’t lead me to expect any favoured treatment.

The agency dealing with the application in South Africa scrutinises your draft submission. There are many things which can go wrong, and do, before your application is perfect enough to put in front of the Health Board in SA. So after multiple attempts my documents were submitted some time back. Since then progress has been glacial.



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