The 'Medical and Pharmacy Council of the Orange River Colony resulted from Ordinance 29 of 1904 and the Council met on 13 July, 1904 in the Council Chamber of the Railway Bureau in Bloemfontein. In terms of Ordinance 29 of 1904, the ‘Transvaal Medical Council’ was established. On 4 January, 1905 the Council had its first meeting in the House of Assembly’s Second Boardroom in Pretoria.
These Councils’ members were partly appointed by the government, while other members were elected for periods of five years. Although provision was made for an Executive Committee in the regulation of the 'Colonial Medical Council', no indication of a permanent structure can be found. This is also the case with regard to the ‘Natal Medical Council’. The 'Transvaal Medical Council' and the ‘Medical and Pharmacy Council of the Orange River Colony’ however had Executive Committees.
The HPCSA’s origins date back to 1928 when, in accordance with Act 13 of 1928, the South African Medical and Dental Council (SAMDC) was appointed to fulfil the functions of the four former provincial councils. Act 13 of 1928 made provision for two statutory councils: the South African Medical Council (SAMC) and the South African Pharmacists' Commission (SAPC). The SAMC was also responsible for the registration of nurses until the South African Nursing Council (SANC) was established as a separate council in 1944. Likewise, the registration of dental technicians was the responsibility of the SAMC until the formation of the South African Dental Technicians' Council in 1945.
Act 56 of 1974 replaced Act 13 of 1928, in terms of which the SAMDC, now renamed the HPCSA, continues to exist as a separate legal entity. The first meeting of the Council was held on 22 October, 1928 in Pretoria and was opened by the late Dr. D F Malan, the then Minister of National Health and later the fourth Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa. Although Act 13 of 1928 made provision for the South African Medical Council and the South African Pharmacist’s Commission to exist as two statutory councils, these two Councils actually had a common Registrar for a number of years.
In 1947, the first register of medical deputies was established. Attempts aimed at making registration of these professions, later paramedical and supplementary health service professions, compulsory, has a history of its own. After a variety of draft bills and elected Committees of Parliament, Act 13 of 1928 was amended in 1971 to make provision for the establishment of professional boards registered with the Council. Professional Boards for Physiotherapy, Optometry, Medical Technology, Chiropody (Podiatry), Health Inspectors, Occupational Therapy, Psychology, Radiography, Medical Orthotists and Prosthetists, Speech Therapy, Audiology, Dietetics, Oral Hygiene, Opticians and Clinical Technology were established. More professional Boards were established at a later stage while others were amended or combined as necessary.