DURBAN - Private ambulances are demanding car-crash victims show proof of medical aid or pay cash upfront if they want to be treated and taken to hospital.
The KwaZulu-Natal Private Ambulance Association acknowledged that that was the case, adding that it was brought about by the Road Accident Fund refusing to pay private ambulances for the services rendered.
The ambulance association said the RAF’s refusal to pay for it services, which, according to reports, is in excess of R5 million, has meant that poor people without medical aid or cash are not being treated timeously at accident scenes.
“It saddens us to witness what has become the attitude of most private ambulances when it comes to rendering emergency medical assistance to road accident victims on our roads,” said Mario Booysen, the secretary-general of the association.
“Back in May 2021, we had expressed our concerns about some private ambulances responding to accident scenes and rendering medical assistance only to those who are covered by the medical aid, as the Road Accident Fund ducks and dives when it comes to sitting down with private ambulance bodies to address the concerns that these businessmen and woman wish to discuss, to enable all of them to, once again, render emergency medical services to all road users, medical aid or not.
“It has come to our attention that some of the private ambulances request R1 500 cash or medical aid on scenes of accidents to render assistance, or the injured would have to wait for the provincial ambulance services or those who are still willing to undertake servicing the public and claiming for services rendered from the road accident fund.”
Among the issues raised by private ambulances is that they are expected to hand in police reports when they make claims after transporting patients to hospital.
Booysen said that many of the association’s members were no longer willing to attend to accident scenes as it had become “non-viable financially”.
RAF spokesperson William Maphutha said that it was not true that ambulance operators were not being paid.
He said he could not make a general comment about payments to private ambulance companies.
He the RAF was implementing systems to verify and validate all claims that had been submitted.
“Therefore, it might be that the delay is as a result that they are still remaining or are sending documents to be submitted, but it is difficult to comment without knowing the exact nature (of a non-payment),” he said.