Probe into 'sick' ambulance drivers
Johannesburg - Ten Port Elizabeth ambulance drivers who called in sick on the weekend will be investigated, the Eastern Cape health department said on Monday.
"There has been a sabotage in the service," said departmental spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo - referring to problems in the Nelson Mandela Bay area on Saturday when absent staff meant a shortage of state ambulances on call.
"Some ambulances had to be parked because there were no crews."
Kupelo said 10 ambulance drivers had taken sick leave on Saturday after handing in medical certificates.
Kupelo said according to officials this meant that 14 emergency vehicles, including nine ambulances, were on the road on Saturday, instead of the usual 18.
The department would investigate the accuracy of this figure as part of a wide-ranging probe into Saturday's proceedings.
"What has to be done is to scrutinise the medical certificates to ascertain whether they are valid or not. It is unusual to have a total of ten official bookings off of sick staff simultaneously."
Kupelo also warned that if any of the doctors had fraudulently issued the certificates, "we have to take action even if it means reporting them to the health professionals’ council because they have compromised the lives of sick people".
Kupelo said the department was already changing the management team in the area.
He said ambulance services were operating as normal in the area on Monday.