Mpumalanga’s R43 million ambulances gathering dust at dealership

By Jane Sithole, MPL, Spokesperson on Health:

Chronic staff shortages in the Mpumalanga Department of Health are denying the citizens of this province access to 79 new emergency service vehicles valued at over R43 million that were purchased in the last two financial years.

The ambulances have been gathering dust at the dealership due to the department’s failure to appoint much-needed Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel.

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The department has claimed that they are in the process of appointing 113 operational staff members but only 20 paramedics have been appointed to date.

In order to make full use of these vehicles, the department needs 325 personnel;

  • 90 to fully staff 98 ambulances
  • 176 are needed to increase the number of operational ambulances from 90 to 120
  • 60 to establish a Planned Patient Transport service which currently does not exist and as a result, current EMS staff is expected to carry out this function as well.

The DA went on an oversight visit to the dealership and found that the newest fleet that has been procured has been standing gathering dust for months. Given the shortage of ambulances in the province, this is unacceptable.

In April this year, the department announced that they had purchased 47 EMS vehicles which include 30 ambulances, three 23-seater Planned Patient Transport Services (PPTS) as well as 14 all-terrain response vehicles. This fleet was purchased for over R21 million from the 2014/15 financial year’s budget.

Once again, under the leadership of Health MEC, Gillion Mashego, the department’s inability to manage its finances, has resulted in its mandate of providing access to primary healthcare taking a backseat.

The DA reiterates its call for MEC Mashego to step down because his gross neglect of the Health department is severely impacting the lives of millions of Mpumalanga citizens whose lives is dependent on government for access to healthcare.

The lack of political will and inability to act decisively has compromised the department so severely that the only corrective measure is to remove MEC Mashego.