Of the 84 Emergency Medical Services (EMS) bases in the Eastern Cape, not one is compliant with EMS regulations in terms of personnel required at the base. These critical staff shortages mean that roughly 60% of the ambulances available can’t be used, as there are not enough staff to man them.
People across the province, in a time of crisis, have had to wait for hours in the hopes that an ambulance will come, because the Department has failed to fill critical vacancies.
What good is having ambulances if there’s no one to drive them?
Furthermore, only four EMS bases comply with National Occupational Health and Safety regulations and just nine comply with equipment regulations.
These shocking statistics were revealed by Health MEC, Nomakosazana Meth, in response to a parliamentary question from the DA.
MEC Meth revealed that, while there are 447 ambulances available to serve those in need, only 182 are rostered. That means, currently, there are 265 ambulances that cannot be used as they do not have the staff.
I have written to MEC Meth to request that she prioritises the filling of all EMS posts, which will more than double the number of rostered ambulances.
I will further request that a task team urgently be established to ensure that all bases are fully equipped and comply with all EMS regulations.
The primary reason given for this disastrous state of affairs is that the EMS staff organogram was designed fifteen years ago, and even then it did not meet the operational needs of the programme. If that is the case, then why was it approved? And what steps have been taken in the past fifteen years to address the situation?
There is a shortage of 2 230 staff in the EMS programme, but the Department only intends to appoint 360 staff in phases of 120 staff at a time. This is no solution!
Throwing crumbs at the EMS service demonstrates just how far removed the leadership of this Department is from the people of our province.
Until the Department of Health prioritises the EMS programme rather than creating unnecessary posts for pals, the people of this province will continue to suffer.
The DA will continue to fight for a fully functional and fully staffed EMS service in the Eastern Cape so our citizens can enjoy access to healthcare, as enshrined in Section 27 of our Constitution.