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Emergency care board condemns paramedics for abandoning sick uMlazi patient who later died in hospital

KZN Emergency Medical Services ambulance.

File Picture: KZN Emergency Medical Services.

Published Jul 12, 2023


Durban - The Professional Board for Emergency Care, under the ambit of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), raised concerns about the recent incident where paramedics allegedly refused to assist a patient in distress in the uMlazi area south of Durban.

The Mercury’s sister publication, the Daily News, reported on Monday that Thembeka Sikhosana, who was allegedly abandoned by state paramedics two weeks ago, died in Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital last Thursday. Sikhosana had a heart condition.

In the report, the paramedics allegedly refused to carry her to the ambulance because of a staircase and they demanded that her relatives and neighbours carry her. As the relatives were carrying her, the paramedics drove off, saying the family members were too slow and were wasting their time.

According to the report, the KZN Department of Health had suspended the two paramedics implicated in the incident pending the outcome of an investigation. The patient had also been transferred to a higher level of care.

HPCSA spokesperson Christopher Tsatsawane said as the regulatory body, the HPCSA is mandated to ensure that practitioners registered with the board provide efficient services to members of the public in a humane and ethical manner.

“The HPCSA confirms that it is aware of the unfortunate incident in Kwazulu-Natal and is investigating the matter,” he said.

Tsatsawane said the refusal to assist a patient severely impacts the lives of the public who rely on services rendered by the emergency care practitioners and goes against the board’s vision of “Promoting quality, equitable, professional and people-centred Emergency Care for all”.

Chairperson of the Emergency Care Board, Dr Simpiwe Sobuwa, called on all emergency care providers to exercise empathy and to be selfless when discharging their duties.

Sobuwa said the emergency care profession requires them to be the first line of defence in curbing preventable loss of life and serious injury to those in need.

He said the board strongly condemns any action that puts the public‘s well-being at risk.

“As the board, we are sending out a clarion call to all registered emergency care personnel across the country to be as efficient as possible and cautious when they give service to the public. We urge them to continue putting the patient’s needs first, applying evidence-based practice in line with the clinical practice guidelines,” he said.