by Andrew Louw – DA Northern Cape Premier Candidate
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Date: 14 February 2019
The Democratic Alliance in the Northern Cape is calling on the MEC of Health, Fufe Makatong, to urgently take stock of the broken ambulance and patient transport fleet in the province.
This comes as more and more incidents relating to a lack of emergency and medical transport, are being exposed.
On Tuesday this week, a number of patients from Springbok, many of whom are cancer patients, were informed that the transport that was meant to ferry them to Upington for treatment, was unavailable. All other vehicles in the Namaqua region are broken and the single vehicle that is in working condition, is apparently being held at a garage, as the department doesn’t have the R900 needed to pay for the repairs.
In another incident on Saturday, a woman in Upington eventually gave birth in a taxi, after the ambulance service took close to three hours to attend to her call. While the woman and her new born daughter are alright, she is traumatised by the experience.
These are the daily horror stories that are being told about the province’s health transport system.
This is no wonder, when one considers that the entire Dawid Kruiper municipal area, which is approximately the same size as Gauteng, only has two working ambulances. Four ambulances are broken and standing in the garage, one has been in an accident, three are awaiting repairs, and two have been loaned to the towns of Askham and Groblershoop, because their ambulances are sitting without licenses and are thus not roadworthy. In fact, it is believed that licenses are being withheld because the Health Department owes the state garage in the range of R30 million.
The situation in Namaqualand and the Upington area, is mirrored in the rest of the province too.
Aside from the province having a largely broken ambulance fleet, they also offer a broken ambulance service. In this regard, they not only have too few emergency personnel but also insufficient resources for rescuers, who have to operate without gloves, without safety goggles and without other safety clothing. Most ambulances do not even have stock of neck braces for accident victims.
At the same time, however, the Health Department sees fit to rather pay anything between R120 000 and R170 000 to transport a single patient via private airlift, instead of upgrading its own emergency service so that the hundreds of other patients in need of critical care, can also gain access to lifesaving treatment.
While the DA has called on MEC Makatong to take urgent action to improve the situation, there is little hope that this will happen. Health care, under her watch and the leadership of her two failing ANC predecessors in this political term, have seen healthcare in the Northern Cape reach an all time low.
The broken health department, under custodianship of the failing ANC government, is killing our people and no new driver, not even President Cyril Ramaphosa, can fix the broken ANC engine.
Only change under a DA-led government will ensure that quality health care becomes accessible to all the people of the Northern Cape.