PLEASE REMOVE THE NUMBER PLATE AND OBSCURE THE PATIENT'S FACE. Claudine says she does not want to talk to us or be identified in any way (not even where she lives) Claudine Senekal/The Ladysmith Herald A severely dehydrated patient is placed on the "bin" of the emergency response vehicle after medical personnel were called out to her Northern KZN home. She had to wait more than four hours before an ambulance was made available.

Durban - Standard Bank has acknowledged problems in the maintenance of KwaZulu-Natal ambulances, which has forced paramedics in some parts of the province to use bakkies to transport patients.

The Department of Health blamed the bank’s vehicle management arm, Transit Solutions, for failing to maintain and release Emergency Medical Services ambulances back to the province on time.

It was reported that with ambulances waiting to be serviced or repaired in workshops, paramedics in Ladysmith and Estcourt resorted to using bakkies to transport patients.

Standard Bank spokesman Ross Linstrom said the bank was aware of the problem and it was “unfortunate” that the delay had impacted negatively on the health fleet.

“We find it extremely concerning when we read in the media reports of patients not receiving the level of service they are entitled to,” he said.

In February, the National Treasury and the Department of Transport awarded a tender to Transit Solutions to manage and maintain state ambulances across the country.

The tender was implemented in April.

However, two months down the line, vehicle maintenance issues started to emerge.

The provincial health department released a statement this week saying the problem started when Transit Solutions took over the management of ambulances.

“One of the critical issues is that Transit Solutions do not have a database of service merchants available in KwaZulu-Natal.

“This has affected the KZN Department of Health’s ability to provide an efficient and reliable ambulance service due to secure merchants being far removed from the service point.”

Linstrom said the bank had expected the problem, and was working on addressing it.

“This (problem) was largely due to the short delivery time, from being awarded the tender in mid-February to implementation date on April 1.

“We are in discussion with the KZN Health Department so as to address the matter and provide an optimised fleet management process,” he said.

The Mercury