Safety measures are being tightened to safeguard medical students from the University of the Free State (UFS) doing their practical at health facilities in Bloemfontein.Part of the new safety measures saw a dedicated fleet of mini-buses being made available on 8 July to transport medical students. This is a joint initiative by the UFS management and the Free State Department of Health. Lacea Loader, UFS spokesperson, said the department provided a fleet of six minibuses. She said the fleet is available to the students at no cost from 06:00 to 23:00 every day as well as on weekends and public holidays.The medical students do their practical training at the following health institutions: Pelonomi Hospital, National Hospital, Free State Psychiatric Complex and the Mangaung University Community Partnership Programme (MUCPP).Prof. Nathaniel Mofolo, head of the School of Clinical Medicine at the UFS, said: “This is the first initiative of its kind that the university has had with the provincial Department of Health. We are thankful for this initiative, which greatly assists in securing the safety of our students.”Mofolo said there was a firm intention from both parties to extend the programme to undergraduate students at the School of Nursing and the School of Allied Health Professions. The plan is to extend the fleet as soon as August.According to Mofolo, the decision to implement the transport programme was taken after students’ safety and wellness concerns were taken into consideration. “Although students can make use of the service on a voluntary basis, we have already received feedback that the service is being put to good use,” said Mofolo.The safety of undergraduate students doing their practical training at Pelonomi Hospital has been in the spotlight last month after the attempted rape of a medical intern, as well as the robbery of a medical officer in the parking area of the hospital. “We are hopeful that the transport programme will prevent the occurrence of similar incidents,” said Mofolo.Following the rape incident early in June, the UFS, the Department of Health and the executive management of the Pelonomi Hospital have been working to ensure the implementation of an agreed safety and security plan. Mofolo said the safety of students, staff, and patients remains a priority.