Patients stranded after cable thieves cut medical line

2019-04-10 06:00

EMERGENCY calls have been cut due to cable theft.

The 10177 medical emergency line is dead, and KZN Health Department spokesperson Ncumisa Mafunda asked the public to contact emergency services on 080 000 5133 as an alternative when other lines are unreachable.

Mafunda could not say yesterday when the issue would be rectified.

Frustrated Pietermaritzburg resident Stephanie Hibbert complained on Facebook that she had tried 11 times at the weekend to call for an ambulance, to no avail. She said each time she called, she was put on hold for about 20 minutes before the call got disconnected.

Hibbert needed an ambulance for a relative who is a recovering drug addict.

“We needed to him admitted to Edendale Hospital for involuntary admission. The police told us to get hold of the ambulance to sedate him.

“It wasn’t a life-threatening case, but we needed to follow the chain of command to get him admitted,” she said.

She said she continued calling during the day, and it would ring and ring and then she would get disconnected.

“I phoned Edendale Hospital and they gave me another number to try but it was also not going through.”

Hibbert said she then tried calling a private ambulance service, but was told that she would be required to pay R2 400 up front.

“He is not on medical aid and they wanted a cash payment before they could even take him,” she said.

She said after three hours of trying to get hold of a state ambulance, they eventually gave up. “It was very frustrating because no one would help.

“Even on Monday morning we tried again, and we still could not get through,” she said, adding they paid for a private taxi to take the relative to the hospital. — The Witness

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