Guidelines for reporting a case of professional misconduct


Patients have the RIGHT to lodge a complaint about professional misconduct


The South African Nursing Council is responsible for setting and maintaining the standards of nursing and midwifery practice in South Africa.  The Nursing Council will investigate any complaint of conduct that violates the high standards of care to which a patient is entitled.

You have the right to lodge a complaint with the Nursing Council about the alleged misconduct of a nursing or midwifery professional/student.  The rules and ethical principles on which professional conduct enquiries are based can be found on the South African Nursing Council website under Regulations.


Examples of acts and omissions which are regarded as professional misconduct by the Nursing Council

  • Arson and attempted murder;
  • Failure to give the required treatment to a patient;
  • Failure to keep accurate and complete records of all nursing care provided to a patient;
  • Failure to prevent injury or accident to a patient;
  • Forcing a patient to sign a consent for a surgical procedure;
  • Giving confidential information about a patient to unauthorized persons;
  • Misuse of medication;
  • Neglect to or delay in obtaining medical assistance for a patient;
  • Patient assault (physical, sexual or verbal);
  • Patient left unattended;
  • Theft from a patient, or a deceased person);
  • Etc.

How the Nursing Council deals with complaints

  • For each written complaint received, the nursing or midwifery practitioner/student concerned is identified
  • The matter is investigated and all relevant information is obtained
  • A report is submitted to the Preliminary Investigation Committee
  • The Preliminary Investigation Committee may either impose a fine, or refer the complaint to the Professional Conduct Committee for a professional conduct inquiry

In the latter case, a formal professional conduct inquiry will be held during which evidence is heard and a finding reached. A nursing or midwifery practitioner/student who is found guilty in accordance with the Nursing Act, 2005 (Act No. 33 of 2005) is liable to one or more of the following penalties:

  • removal from the register of practitioners/students;
  • suspension from practising/training;
  • a caution;
  • a reprimand;
  • a fine;  or
  • payment of the costs of the proceedings.

The South African Nursing Council and the Department of Health share a deep concern for patients’ rights.  The Nursing Council is committed to the speedy and effective handling of complaints.

Ethical Nursing

The fundamental responsibilities of a nursing or midwifery practitioner/student are:

  • To promote and restore health;
  • To prevent illness;
  • To alleviate suffering;
  • To respect the right to life;
  • To preserve human life and dignity;
  • To treat all persons as total human beings;
  • To respect each person’s uniqueness and personal values, beliefs and traditions;
  • To respect the right of health care users to freedom of choice;
  • To preserve and enhance health of health care users;
  • To provide the highest quality of nursing/midwifery care.

An ethical problem arises when the conduct of a nursing or midwifery practitioner/student negatively affects a patient or health care user.

How to lodge a complaint

Your complaint will be treated as confidential.

The complaint must be in writing (preferably in the form of an affidavit) detailing:

  • The place, date and time of the incident
  • The conduct complained about
  • The names and particulars of persons involved and witnesses (if any)

Be specific and give as much information as possible

Please supply your name, address and contact numbers – so that the Nursing Council can contact you.
Send this to:

The Registrar
South African Nursing Council
Private Bag X132, Pretoria, 0001, Republic of South Africa

Telephone: 012 420-1000

Fax: 012 426 9553



The place, date and time of the incident
The conduct complained about
The names and particulars of persons involved and witnesses (if any)