Home News Only two ambulances operational in Frances Baard – claims

Only two ambulances operational in Frances Baard – claims

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“Ambulances pose a grave danger to both patients and employees.”

File image.

Emergency Medical Staff (EMS) staff are only operating two ambulances in the Frances Baard region due to the poor condition of ambulances that are reported to be unroadworthy and are not properly equipped.

EMS staff were warned by the Department of Health on Friday that they were taking part in an illegal and unprotected strike.

“As essential services you are not permitted to strike.”

Employees were cautioned that they could be charged while the principle of no work no pay would be applied.

The grandmother of a 12 year old patient indicated that she waited for six hours for an ambulance to arrive.

“My granddaughter had a temperature of 41 degrees Celsius on November 18. I called the ambulance at 4pm and they only arrived at 10pm.”

Hospersa provincial chairperson Paul Gras said that EMS staff were not embarking on any strike action.

“Staff are waiting upon the Department of Health to repair ambulances that pose a grave danger to both patients and employees.

“EMS will not utilise these ambulances until they are properly equipped and are declared roadworthy. It is the department that is interrupting service delivery because employees are not given the necessary tools of trade.”

He added that there should be seven ambulances operating in the Frances Baard region.

“The other districts are also experiencing the same problem although the situation is not as dire.”

Gras stated that the stretchers were broken while the electrocardiograph (ECG) machines inside the ambulances were not working.

“Emergency staff have to be extremely careful while loading patients onto the ambulance stretchers as they are falling apart and are old. There are no radios inside the ambulances and staff have to make use of their own cellphones, data and airtime to call patients in, after they are collected. This is while they are not given any cellphone allowances.”

Nehawu regional secretary Moleme Moleme added that EMS staff employed in the John Taolo Gaetsewe district did not have proper work stations.

“They have to go home to relieve themselves as the ablution facilities are not suitable. They are basically expected to work from home after dropping off patients at the hospital.”

Public Servants Association (PSA) provincial manager Steve Ledibane added that the union had outstanding issues regarding the non-payment of overtime and night shift allowances to EMS staff.

The unions indicated that no mandate was given to permit any strike action.

The Department of Health did not respond to media enquiries.

According to a letter from the Department of Health, a team was addressing grade progression, excess hours and EMS regulations issues.

It added that many of the grievances raised were “legacy issues” and requested time to verify information to avoid processing irregular payments.

EMS employees were reminded of their duty to provide uninterrupted health care services.

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