Training crisis at EMRS, says MEC

2009-12-03 00:00

ON the eve of the holiday season KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo has disclosed that the pro­vince’s Emergency Medical Rescue Services [EMRS] is suffering a skills crisis.

Dhlomo made the revelation at the EMRS College student graduation ceremony held at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital in Durban recently.

He said the short courses offered to the EMRS trainees are not adequate, adding that this results in complications when it comes to dealing with emergency situations.

The conclusion about the inadequate courses was drawn by both the department and the Health Professionals Council of South Africa.

Dhlomo conceded that more work is needed to improve the response time, citing the example of cases where it took about five hours to move patients from Mahatma Gandhi Hospital to the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital.

“We all agreed that the insufficient depth of knowledge and inadequate skills mix of emergency care workers that are trained on short courses had affected the quality of patient care.

This has lead to an increase in the number of complaints received by the Health Professions Council of South Africa regarding the poor standard of care in emergency care services,” said Dhlomo.

The department further revealed yesterday that a shortage of ambulances causes delays in responding to patients.

Departmental spokesman Chris Maxon said the lack of qualified people exacerbates the problem, adding that the department is taking measures to deal with it.

“Highly qualified personnel are needed as the service deals with patients in various health conditions.

“The trainees at the college receive entry-level training and most of them don’t go for advanced training,” Maxon said. The department encourages those who complete their training to use the opportunities provided by the department and other businesses to further their studies in the field.

Democratic Alliance caucus leader in the KZN legislature John Steenhuisen said the emergency rescue services issue has been left unattended for years.

He said it is unacceptable for the department to show alarm, because the issue has been raised many times in the legislature.

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