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Questions remain over ambulances

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The lack of emergency vehicles was a threat to the lives of the people of the Province

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THE DA in the Northern Cape has again slammed the Department of Health for what it labelled deteriorating and ailing health services that are being provided to the people of the Province.

In a statement, the DA listed a number of areas where ambulances were found to be non-functioning.

The DA provincial leader, Andrew Louw, said that many patients were left without any medical assistance due to this problem.

“The motor vehicle licence of the single ambulance in the Richtersveld has expired. In effect, the emergency vehicle is rendered unroadworthy and may not be utilised until the paperwork has been updated. Due to the non-functioning state of this very ambulance, a four-year-old boy from Alexanderbaai could not be transported to the nearest hospital for medical attention after he broke his arm last week. A patient suffering from gangrene, could also not be transported from Garies to Springbok, and had to rely on a DA MPL to get him there.

“The licences of the emergency response vehicle in Khâi-Ma Municipality and that of an ambulance in Kommagas have apparently also expired. Meanwhile, the ambulance that services 17 towns in and around Kamiesberg was in an accident two weeks ago. The ambulance was replaced by an old vehicle that is missing a door because of the poor condition of the roads. On top of this, the emergency vehicle in Vioolsdrift was written off in 2015 and has not been replaced since.”

Louw stated that the lack of emergency vehicles was a threat to the lives of the people of the Province.

Provincial Department of Health spokesperson Lebogang Majaha admitted that there were ambulances awaiting licences but added that patients had been afforded the needed health care.

“We acknowledge that there are a few ambulances that are awaiting new licences, however, no calls or cases have been denied or unattended to because of this temporary situation,” Majaha said.

He added that the matters referred to by the DA had been addressed.

“The gangrene patient referred to in this complaint was discharged subsequent to his refusal of hospital treatment. However, the same patient was again transported by emergency medical services (EMS) to Springbok hospital where he underwent an operation and is currently in hospital for post-surgical management. The case of the child who broke his arm is not known to EMS or the alleged clinic.”

Majaha said that the department is in the process of addressing the challenge, where there might be a need for more emergency vehicles.

“The department is currently going through the process of converting vehicles to ambulances. These vehicles will, before the end of the financial year, be placed in operations across the Province and areas in serious demand will be prioritised. These will include patient transporters in order to ensure that our patients access the health services they need.

“The MEC has always put communities first and continues to strive towards addressing all challenges relating to emergency medical services in the Province. She has already appointed 54 emergency care workers to ensure the eradication of one-person ambulance crews in the Province,” Majaha said.