Ambulance crisis escalating in the Northern Cape

Andrew Louw MPL

DA Northern Cape Premier Candidate

The ongoing ambulance crisis in the Northern Cape is in fact far worse than is being presented in the media and the DA challenges the provincial Health Department to come clean on the real state of affairs within its Emergency Medical Services (EMS) unit. They must admit the extent of the problem, so that they can fix it. The first step to recovery is admitting the full extent of the problem.

Today, we read of ambulances falling apart, held together by nothing more than bandages, while in February, we learnt of approximately 10 ambulances queuing up for repair at a Kimberley workshop.

Both incidents indicate that there are serious problems with our ambulance services.

The EMS unit in the Northern Cape is further troubled by:

–        Lack of proper training within the EMS unit;

–        Lack of staff; and

–        Inherent poor management by the provincial health department.

These contributing factors are propelling the crisis of the provincial EMS unit into a full-blown fiasco threatening the lives of anyone who requires emergency assistance.

It’s high time that the health department prioritizes its emergency services – people’s lives depend on it.

According to the department’s latest annual report, a shortage of ambulances remains a challenge and a concern for the department. The report further indicates that, while it is the department’s target to have 1,3 rostered ambulances per 10 000 people in operation, the department currently only has 0,4 rostered ambulances per 10 000 people in operation. In other words, the department is not even making a third of its target.

At the same time, single crew ambulances remain the norm in the Northern Cape.

In the absence of a proper explanation on how funds are being spent on the EMS unit, the DA will request an investigation by the Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, to investigate this life-threatening situation in the Department of Health which is being left unresolved.

A DA government would support the development of health and emergency services to bring emergency care up to international standards.

Proper management of the budget, emergency vehicles, medical equipment and EMS personnel is essential to enable these important services to save people’s lives.