Johannesburg - The KwaZulu-Natal health department is using the supplier of ambulances as a scapegoat in its crisis, the Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union (Hospersa) said on Saturday.
“Hospersa is aware of the fact that emergency services base managers in KwaZulu-Natal did warn their fleet management and operations management of areas for concern ahead of the hand over to the new service provider,” spokeswoman Michelle Connolly said in a statement.
“This was during March and their concerns were the exact ones that the department has now chosen to highlight on Friday.”
The provincial health department on Friday said it had to use emergency and rescue vehicles for critical patients.
This was because of problems with the company responsible for servicing the department's ambulances, spokesman Sam Mkhwanazi said at the time.
Connolly said the problems with the supply of ambulances began around the second week of April.
The public health service was placing the lives of patients at risk and denying them their constitutional right to emergency health care, she said.
“Hospersa finds it nothing more than the worst kind of spin-doctoring for the department to emphasise that bakkies are a temporary measure to ensure patient care is not compromised and that the department has responded by deploying their support vehicles in order to ensure that health care services are continued.”
Connolly said it was not medical protocol to transport patients with severe abdominal injuries seated in the back seat of a double-cab bakkie.
She said all of KwaZulu-Natal’s emergency services vehicles had high mileage on them but base managers had been advised that were no plans in the new financial year to purchase new vehicles.