The Gauteng health department spent more than R45 million on the maintenance and repair of ambulances during the 2021/22 financial year.
Health MEC Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi revealed this in a written reply to the DA in the provincial legislature on Wednesday.
According to Mokgethi, R5.6 million was spent on maintenance, R33.6 million on other repairs and R5.7 million on accident repairs.
Gauteng has 1 221 ambulances but 140 are not operational.
Mokgethi said there were several service providers contracted to provide repair and maintenance services. The delays in repairing ambulances and excessive expense involved was because the department had to obtain quotes from multiple service providers.
In a bid to ensure there were enough ambulances to attend to medical emergencies, plans were in place to procure vehicles for neonatal and obstetric emergencies.
“Gauteng Scheduled Emergency Transport Services will be strengthened during the current financial year with increasing resources, human capital and vehicles that will be dedicated to service health facilities. The emergency medical services will be capacitated with IT equipment to monitor vehicle movement and availability and assist in dispatching resources when required.
“New communication devices will be rolled out in all ambulances and key areas within the health facilities to improve communication between emergency medical services and high caseload at health facilities,” Mokgethi said.
The DA’s spokesperson on health Jack Bloom said emergency response times to save lives were hindered by a high accident rate, with 259 ambulances involved in accidents between 2020 and last year.
Bloom said he was concerned that one in five of Gauteng’s 1 221 ambulances were involved in accidents over a two-year period.
He said the province needed about 600 more ambulances to provide a decent emergency service.
“According to international standards, Gauteng should have one ambulance for every 10 000 people as well as 10% more for a buffer, which amounts to 1 795 ambulances. Better management is needed to cut down on the reckless ambulance driving and to ensure that people needing emergency care are reached as soon as possible.”