Ambulances: union steps in

2014-06-09 00:00

THE Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) has demanded that the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health takes responsibility over the shortages of ambulances.

Hospersa national spokesperson Michelle Connolly said, “The public health service is placing the lives of patients at risk and it is denying them their constitutional right to emergency health care.”

This follows reports about the shortage of ambulances and the tragic death of Nosisa Mncwabe (9) from Kwamnyandu who died waiting for an ambulance at a local clinic.

“It is not acceptable for the department to simply pass the buck on to the service provider whenever a crisis occurs. Hospersa is aware of the fact that Emergency Services base managers in KZN warned their fleet management and operations management of areas for concern ahead of the hand-over to the new service provider,” said Connolly.

Emergency Medical Services paramedics told The Witness that problems are escalating everyday in their units.

“At Grey’s [hospital] only one ambulance works instead of four, at Appelsbosch only two work instead of four, at Mooi River/Howick only one works and in the Edendale area only two are on the road,” said the source.

He said they report for duty but cannot work as the ambulances are in no condition to transport patients. “Patients are now waiting longer than before for ambulances,” said the paramedic.

They said in Msinga, Ladysmith and Estcourt bakkies are used to transport patients as a result of the shortage.

Connelly said the department is using the service provider as a defence. “We find it nothing more than the worst kind of spin-doctoring for the department to emphasise that bakkies are a temporary measure to ensure patient care is not compromised,” she said.

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