The Eastern Cape Department of Health (EC DoH) is again playing with the lives of thousands of patients as they yet again fail to stick to recent payment promises made to Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staff. Clear payment time lines must be made and strictly adhered to.

In a notice sent to all EMS Metro Heads and signed on 3 December by Mr. Ntsoane as the Senior Manager of IHRM, it states that by no later than 5 December 2012, the first of three categories of outstanding payments will be made to EMS staff throughout the province. The promises made by the department of these dates and categories were the sole reason most of the striking paramedics and other EMS staff returned to work.

The first category that was due to be paid before 5 December included certain PDMS payments, excess hours payments, leave gratuity payments and acting allowances.

It has been reported to the Democratic Alliance (DA) that the EC DoH has yet again failed to stick to the promises made and as such the EMS staff are on a Go-Slow.

EMS phones are not being answered and critical patients are not being transferred to hospitals. It is exceptionally wrong that any emergency services staff chooses to strike in the first place, but what is a bigger sin is for the MEC of Health and the department to make specific promises and not keeping to them, knowing that EMS staff will strike again, knowing that they will be risking lives.

The MEC and department must stick to their promises made and ensure that who needs to be paid their dues receive them when promised. In not doing so, it is undeniable that the blood of the patients lost and unnecessary complications of illnesses and ailments because of lack of paramedic services will be on their hands.