Johannesburg’s ambulance fleet has grown from 100 to 40 since the province started taking over ambulances last year. And as Gauteng battles amid a third wave of Covid-19 infections, the remaining ambulances were put on hold two weeks ago, putting further strain on the service.
The Gauteng government has resumed the provision of metro ambulance services. The city of Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni have handed over their ambulance fleets. Source: provided
The remaining 40 have been suspended because the city cannot provide ambulance services without a license to operate, city emergency management services spokesman Robert Mulaudzi said. Part of the provincialization process requires municipalities to apply for a separate license, if they wish to continue providing ambulance services alongside the provincial government, he said.
The suspended ambulances were part of the city’s fleet. The city operated this fleet alongside the provincial fleet, but now that the city fleet has been suspended, only the provincial fleet operates in the city of Johannesburg.
While the city of Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni turned over their ambulance fleets to the Gauteng government, the city of Tshwane was granted a temporary license and continued to provide emergency medical services, the acting chief of services said. emergency in Tshwane, Moshema Mosia. âThe city uses its own ambulance fleet, staff and budget. This service is complementary and complementary to the provincial ambulance service, âsaid Mosia.
The Gauteng Department of Health has received mixed reactions to its assumption of ambulance services. While the South African Union of Emergency Personnel (SAEPU) welcomed the move, the Democratic Alliance and the city of Tshwane called for the relevant municipalities to be allowed to continue providing the service.
Mpho Mpogeng, Chairman of SAEPU, said, âThe hard part is the issue of salaries. You often find that metropolitan municipalities pay better than the government. Emergency service personnel also do not receive the same amount from different municipalities. We fight to make sure that all emergency service personnel earn enough money to support themselves and their families. “
Provincialization of emergency medical services (EMS) began with the Metsweding District Municipality in April 2007, said Motalatale Modiba, director of communications for the Gauteng health department.
We currently have 878 operational ambulances, of which an average of 320 are registered daily.
According to Gauteng health spokesperson Kwara Kekana, 231 ambulances are operational in Tswane, 216 in Johannesburg, 128 in Ekurhuleni, 128 in Sedibeng and 175 in the West Rand.
Response times recorded over the past four months were on average 95.6% for ambulances arriving in less than 30 minutes in urban areas of Gauteng and 91.1% in less than 60 minutes in rural areas. of Gauteng, Modiba said.
However, Jack Bloom, the Gauteng Shadow Health MEC Democratic Alliance, said this did not correspond to experiences on the ground.
âThere is some merit in provincialization, other provinces have provincialized but it needs to be done with efficiency and prudence,â Bloom said. âI have received complaints from people in Johannesburg who called a provincial ambulance and it did not arrive. Someone I spoke to recently said he waited six hours for the ambulance to arrive. “
Ekurhuleni city spokesman Zweli Dlamini said he also received complaints about the response time, but
this seems to have abated lately.
The Gauteng Health Department, however, refuted these claims, saying it has enough ambulances to service the province and ensure reasonable arrival times.
According to Karen Meyer, Mayco member for Community Safety and Emergency Services in Tshwane, âthe city has proposed that all Gauteng municipalities capable of providing such a service with their own budget receive a temporary license extension until at the end of January. next year (2022).
Tshwane’s temporary license will last until December 11, 2021. Meyer said the city has applied for a permanent license to provide the ambulance service and is waiting for the license to be granted.