By Dr Imran Keeka, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Health:
THE DA last week called on KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, to urgently create a task team to address ongoing unhappiness amongst Emergency Medical Rescue Services (EMRS) staff.
The appeal was made in the form of a motion tabled on Friday last week during the last formal sitting of the KZN Legislature. This, after EMRS staff staged a protest outside the parliamentary precinct on Thursday last week, threatening to further extend protest action across the province in the days ahead if their demands are not met.
MEC Dhlomo must take full responsibility for this situation. It is a travesty that the issues of Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD) and overtime have been ongoing for more than five years with no resolution in sight.
MEC Dhlomo’s failure to address these has resulted in untold suffering, prolonged response times to emergencies on top of the already long waiting times and possibly even death.
In addition to the suffering, there is an enormous expense to the department as the services of private ambulances have to be used to fill the vacuum created by striking staff.
The DA calls on the MEC to create a task team to address the concerns as a matter of urgency. Failing which, and if there are any deaths, he must be prepared to accept complete responsibility and leave office. Lives are precious and not dealing with issues that can cost lives is unacceptable.
We also urge EMRS staff to behave responsibly. While they have every right to legally protest, they must remember they provide a critical service and that any action they take must never compromise a life. This must not be misconstrued as diminishing the importance of their needs.
EMRS staff should also know that labour law does not allow for their salaries to be halved as they claim.
The DA encourages EMRS staff to work with any task team formed to finally bring this protracted matter to a close. We expect the MEC to find the will and determination to make this happen