NMB residents unable to get help from Health Dept in emergencies

Issued by Jane Cowley, MPL
Shadow MEC for Health

Residents living in Nelson Mandela Bay have been unable to get any assistance from the Provincial Department of Health’s Emergency Medical Services, because the call centre has been offline.

Imagine lying bleeding on the side of the road or being in labour and needing an ambulance, and your calls for help go unanswered. This is a shocking failure of government.

The call centre, based at the head office at the Dora Nginza Hospital, has been down since last Wednesday, leaving people in dire need of EMS services across Nelson Mandela Bay unable to get assistance, their calls for help simply unanswered.

I have written to the Eastern Cape Health MEC, Nomakosazana Meth, to try to establish the reasons for this service delivery collapse and to enquire as to the immediate steps the Department will take to rectify this dire situation.

The Department of Health has been deathly silent about this disastrous service failure, but employees say that two possible excuses have been put forward. The first is that the phone cables have been stolen, which is simply not true as the Dora Nginza hospital operates on the same cables, and their phones are working.

The second, and more likely reason, is that the Department has not paid the phone account. If this is the case, then the MEC and her Head of Department must be held to account for this shocking state of affairs.

While the Department stumbles from one financial crisis to another, it is becoming more and more apparent that they cannot fix the mess that years of corruption have left them in.

Yet, they still manage to create frivolous posts for “Assistant Directors” who are paid a Level 9 salary but have no experience whatsoever and are employed in “Centres of Excellence” that do not exist!

This, while the man on the street cannot even access an ambulance when critically ill or injured because the Department cannot pay accounts.

This is a disgrace!

Until such time as the EMS services are decentralised to the communities that they serve, and the Department stops filling posts with pals, but instead ringfences monies to settle all outstanding accounts, especially those pertaining to emergency care, the people of our province will continue to pay in unnecessary deaths.