MEC must put aside political campaigning and address KZN EMRS crisis

Mark Steele, MPP

DA KZN Alternate Spokesperson on Health

The Democratic Alliance demands that KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, put aside his political campaigning and deal with the ongoing crisis relating to working conditions for members of the department’s Emergency Medical Rescue Services (EMRS).

This after EMRS workers again threatened a complete shut-down of the service in the province amid claims that they are not paid overtime and do not receive a danger allowance despite the fact that they are often called to unsafe areas and are at risk of contracting diseases due to the nature of their work.

Morale within the province’s EMRS is at an all-time low.  This was evident at a recent protest by staff in Pietermaritzburg.

Meanwhile, there are widespread reports of prolonged response times to emergencies and insufficient vehicles and personnel given the demands of this service.

Almost a full year ago, 300 state paramedics from 11 districts in KwaZulu-Natal threatened a shutdown of emergency services claiming that their requests had been repeatedly fobbed off by both the national and provincial health departments.

At the time they submitted a memorandum to the province’s health department, listing their grievances.

That these matters have not yet been resolved and that EMRS workers – who provide such a critical service – are still threatening to stop work is an indictment against the MEC.

As the head of the province’s health department he has a duty to put aside his political campaigning for next month’s election and demand that his officials come up with a plan to address this crisis in service delivery.