WATCH: Private ambulances in KZN protest the ’collapse’ of their business

By Lee Rondganger Time of article published May 31, 2021

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SCORES of private sector paramedics delivered a memorandum to KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Zulu’s office in Pietermaritzburg on Monday in protest against what they call a “collapse” of their business by the government.

Scores of ambulances with their emergency lights on snaked their way along the N3 from Durban to Pietermaritzburg to hand over a memorandum of demands to the MEC.

Among their grievances is that they have not been prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccines like other health workers, the Emergency Medical Services Regulations in their current form, the poaching of their qualified paramedics by the government and the closure of Intermediate Life Support colleges.

Mario Booysen of the KZN Private Ambulance Association said they had no option but to protest as they had been ignored by the KZN Department of Health.

“Our members are appalled that the functionaries of an organ of state, the state which prides itself as having elected a developmental state path, would demonstrate such insensitivity, lack of empathy and basic comprehension of the devastating effects and harm that non-engagement, disregard for our ideas, inputs, contributions and concerns can cause to us as emerging small to medium EMS businesses,” Booysen said.

He said because their concerns had not been taken seriously they had had to abandon their medical services to the public on Monday to deliver the memorandum.

What impact does this have on the economy, especially, during the climate of Covid-19?

“KZN Health is indifferent. If truth be told; this is economic sabotage by an organ of state on our businesses. KZN Health has effectively thrown us under the bus.

“These are matters and concerns we want to engage you on as the KwaZulu-Natal Private Ambulances Association and are indeed frustrated and angered by your department’s posture towards us,” a statement by the association said.

The KZN Department of Health had not responded to a right of reply request by IOL at the time of publishing. Their comments will be added when they come available.

The protest by the private ambulance services come in the wake of the government tightening regulations around private Emergency Medical Services after the industry saw a boom in new entrants with many using vehicles that were outdated and ill-equipped to treat patients at accidents or other emergencies.

Among the new regulations that came into effect in February are regulations that require private ambulances to keep a high standard in terms of how they treat patients, the vehicles they use, how they maintain those vehicles, their medical supplies and how they dispose of their waste.

IOL

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