Dr Neil Campbell MPL
Deputy Spokesperson on Health
Gauteng Emergency Services only has one ambulance for every 435 000 people in the province and only 50% of the ambulances in urban areas respond within 15 minutes.
Despite spending 8% more than budgeted in the Emergency Medical Services programme in the 2012/13 financial year, none of the targets for the programme was met according to the Gauteng Health Department’s latest annual report.
There should be an ambulance for every 200 000 people in Gauteng, but this is still a far off reality even if the 120 new ambulances promised eventually arrive, as ageing and mothballed emergency healthcare vehicles dot the province.
Earlier this year the Department’s First Quarterly Report, which covers the period April to June this year, also indicated that emergency response within 15 minutes in urban areas was at only 47%, which is lower than the 52% in this annual report for 2012/13 and way below the 70% target.
The discrepancies between the First Quarterly Report and the Annual Report for 2012/13 confirm that the quality and capacity of ambulances in the province are deteriorating, instead of improving as promised.
This draws into question the effectiveness of Health MEC Hope Papo’s drive to provincialise and centralise emergency healthcare services and vehicles. The MEC needs to reassess the process and be frank about the challenges, as the lack of proper and effective emergency healthcare services places the people of Gauteng at risk.
The DA calls on the MEC to speed up the acquisition of the 120 ambulances for the province as indicated and to make sure that all ambulances are properly maintained, equipped and staffed to render the critical services they are supposed to, as this is literally a matter of life and death.