Millions of rands worth of ambulances reportedly gather dust in the City of Ekurhuleni, raising concerns over extended response times and healthcare failures.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the City of Ekurhuleni revealed that around R47 million ambulances have remained idle for over three years at the city’s fire stations, with approximately 36 of these ambulances being brand new. The DA criticised that the city continues to have the lowest ambulance response times in the province.
These ambulances were initially meant to be transferred to the Gauteng provincial government following the provincialisation of the service by the ANC-led government in 2020. However, the DA claimed that the ambulances have languished in the fire stations despite the transfer in principle.
Millions of rands’ worth of equipment intended for transfer along with the provincial takeover have been neglected, according to Stefanie Ueckermann, the DA’s spokesperson for health and social development in Ekurhuleni.
Ueckermann further underlined the severe consequences of this situation, noting that the DA’s Shadow MEC for Health report, Jack Bloom, revealed that emergency ambulances in Gauteng respond to only 56% of calls for priority one patients within 30 minutes. The situation is even worse in Ekurhuleni, where only 46% of life-threatening emergency calls receive a response within 30 minutes.
Residents, particularly those in township areas, have been greatly affected. Some have to use private vehicles to transport the sick and injured to hospitals and clinics after enduring lengthy waits for an ambulance.
The Gauteng Executive Council decided to provincialise Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to align with the National Health Act’s provisions, resulting in the Gauteng Department of Health becoming the competent authority for providing emergency medical services in the province.
Ekurhuleni spokesperson Zweli Dlamini clarified that the ambulance service is now under the Gauteng Provincial Government’s control, and the health department should be contacted for inquiries.
While the Gauteng Department of Health emphasised the progress in streamlining EMS services and improving response times, allegations regarding the idle ambulances could not be confirmed or denied. It was stated that Gauteng Emergency Medical Services is fulfilling its constitutional duty by responding to all emergencies reported, as no one should be denied emergency care, as per the South African Constitution. Private health providers also provide medical services to the country’s citizens, thus alleviating service gaps.
The DA’s claims highlight the need for effective resource management and infrastructure improvements to ensure timely and efficient healthcare services for the residents of Ekurhuleni.
Picture: X / DA_GPL
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