HealthNet fleet gains ten tailor-made wheelchair patient transporters

Theuns Botha, Minister of Health

Western Cape Government

This morning, ahead of the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities being commemorated tomorrow, the Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, viewed the new wheelchair patient transporters that have been added to the HealthNet fleet.

The advanced conversion of the vehicles were done at just under R500 000 per vehicle, bringing the total project cost to just under R5 million rand. The ten new vehicles will be deployed throughout the Western Cape Province.

In the past HealthNet transport services could not adequately accommodate disabled persons due to a lack of vehicles that could transport these patients safely. Emergency Medical Services together with Volkswagen and Advanced Vehicle Engineering designed a solution.

Emergency Medical Services recently procured ten wheelchair patient transporters. These are essentially VW Caddy light commercial vehicles which they modified extensively with the help of a local company called Advanced Vehicle Engineering in Montague Gardens.

Minister Botha “tested” the technology, and acted as a patient being loaded onto the transporter. “I am extremely impressed. These new transporters demonstrate the dedication of our Department to address the challenges through innovation. It is a transporter that adds dignity to the transport experience of our disabled patients.”

Unlike normal HealthNet patient transporters, these new vehicles are able to transport four able-bodied patients, as well as a wheelchair-bound patient. The rear hinged doors which would normally provide access to the luggage compartment, now open to reveal a fold-out ramp and adjustable restraint and pulley system to quickly load a wheelchair bound patient with absolute ease. The conversion is approved by VW Germany as well as VW South Africa which means the vehicle warranty and service plan remains intact.

The new vehicles will form part of the HealthNet fleet of patient transporters, bringing the total number of HealthNet vehicles capable of transporting wheelchair-bound patients to 12. The new vehicles are able to carry four patients (excluding the wheelchair patient) and due to their compact size and engine capacity the cost of operating these new vehicles is considerably reduced.

The purchase price for each of these vehicles is around R230 000 and they cost a further R157 803 to convert.

EMS currently operates 540 vehicles in total of which 90 are specific to HealthNet patient transport.