The Chris Hani district has received 25 emergency medical services vehicles of the 129 which were handed over by the department of transport MEC, Weziwe Tikana, to areas throughout the province on Thursday.
Last year an article in The Rep reported: “Only half of the health department’s ambulances in the Chris Hani district were operational.”
The then department of health spokesperson Lwandile Sicwetsha had said out of 64 ambulances based in the district, only 32 were working. Sicwetsha said the national standards dictated there should be one ambulance per 10,000 people.
Sicwetsha had also said 690 ambulances were needed in the province for its population of 6,9 million. This meant that there was still a shortage.
The department of health MEC Sindiswa Gamba said the additional ambulances would improve the provision of emergency services and enhance accessibility to health services to the general public.
The fleet will help ease the influx of patients to hospital wards and eradicate problems of patients sleeping in casualty departments because there were no ambulances to take them home, Gamba said.
She urged the employees of the departments to take good care of the fleet and keep a comprehensive maintenance plan and an efficient turn-around time during routine service and breakdowns.
“We will not have an emergency fleet parked at repairs for longer than required if we have responsible fleet operators and a comprehensive maintenance plan. This will bring sustainable efficiency to the EMS.
She said the Eastern Cape had 447 ambulances and the current staff shortage means only about 200 can be manned. With these figures, we cannot afford to have a non-functioning fleet because of long periods spent in repairs.
In addition to this fleet, Gamba said three helicopters, based in Port Elizabeth, East London and Mthatha, were also handed over. “The national Airways Corporation is contracted to provide 30 hours of flying time per helicopter per month. These aero-medical services are a valuable service that brings advanced life support expertise to the most rural and remote areas in the province.”