Screws tighten for fly-by-night medics

2015-06-12 17:51

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Durban - The National Department of Health is tightening the screws on fly-by-night private ambulance services by gazetting a raft of new controls to keep the service professional.

The regulations, published in the Government Gazette in May, represent a move to rein in hundreds of ambulances companies and elevate them to a uniform standard.

The regulations, now in effect, will be enforced for existing companies within a year.  

Within a year, Health Department inspectors could descend on the hundreds of ambulance services, both private and state-run, to ensure compliance and issue licenses.

Smaller ambulance services operating from homes with one or two vehicles will have to institute a range of expensive changes including:

·         a base or station with rest and sleep facilities available 24 hours per day and have permanent, plumbed, clean and hygienic ablution facilities;

·         an available dirty utility room facility to clean contaminated equipment and linen as well as vehicle washing facilities with appropriate, built-in medical waste traps;

·         adequate medical waste management system and the service must have contractual proof of a current agreement with a registered waste management disposal company for medical waste disposal;

·         a ratio of one ambulance per response vehicle including those vehicles from other services with whom a service level agreement has been entered into;

·        proof of liability insurance cover for the emergency medical service and 

·         the Emergency Medical Service must hold a current, written, service level agreement with the consulting medical practitioner confirming the consulting medical practitioner is available to assist with clinical governance, medical advice and necessary supervision and training.

RescueCare director Garrith Jamieson welcomed the new regulation and the enhanced “structure” they would bring.

“I think it is good and we will have some structure where private ambulance operators have to abide by a set of rules and all of this will work for the good of the patient. Too often ambulance operators are out for maximum profit and cut corners and this adversely affects those in their hour of need.”

“We have many private ambulance services that have one or two ambulances and don’t have the requisite staff who just work when they want and these new regulations can only be good,” he added.

Private ambulance service Crisis Medical spokesperson Kyle van Reenen also hailed the regulations as “long overdue”.

“The regulations are excellent, because everything will be standardised and the fly-by-night operators will have to up their game and elevate the level of care they give to the patients.” 

Read more on:    durban  |  health

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