78 Tshwane ambulances grounded after expiry of temporary licence
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Pretoria - The Gauteng Department of Health and the City of Tshwane are on a collision course over the granting of the operating licence to the Tshwane Emergency Services.
This has resulted in at least 78 of the City’s ambulances being grounded for weeks since the expiry of its temporary licence on January 21.
The Pretoria News has seen an internal memo, dated March 5, 2021, in which Tshwane acting emergency chief Moshema Mosia accused the provincial government of reneging on the agreement to extend the ambulance operation for 12 months with effect from February 1.
The memo was written subsequent to a letter from the department’s acting head Lesiba Arnold Malotana, who wanted the municipality to cease its ambulance emergency services until it had obtained an operating licence.
Malotana’s letter, dated February 28, 2021, was directed at the acting City manager Mmaseabata Mutlaneng, who was advised to apply for an operating licence before providing any medical services.
The correspondence followed: “The provincial health technical meeting held on January 19, 2021 agreed that the City may apply for an operating licence.
It further said a temporary operating licence may be issued within 15 working days of receiving the application, with all the required documentation.
However, in an internal circular to the City’s emergency services personnel, the acting head Mosia, expressed surprise at the department’s about-turn not to allow the municipality to render emergency medical services after a resolution was taken on January 13 to extend the ambulance operation.
“As previously communicated in the communication herein above referred to, the Emergency Services Department continues to engage with Gauteng provincial government health department in this regard. Engagements were held on the January 13, 2021 between the Office of the Premier, MEC for Health, MMCs from various municipalities and Gauteng Provincial Government Health, where an agreement was reached, that arrangement with the City of Tshwane Emergency Medical Operations would be extended for a further 12 months as of February 1, 2021.
“Confirmation of the meeting resolution, in writing, was supposed to follow and the City of Tshwane Emergency Medical Operations continued to operate based on this resolution,” the circular read.
Mosia was unhappy that there had been “no clear response” from the provincial government despite “various follow-ups” having been made regarding the meeting resolution.
“The Emergency Services Department is now of the opinion that the provincial government is reneging on the agreement,” he said.
Mosia said the City was, however, in the process of finalising the licence application, saying pending its approval the City would cease emergency medical operations until further notice.
“EMO employees will, however, be expected to come to work as usual as these processes are unfolding.”
Tshwane Emergency spokesperson Charles Mabaso said in addition to the ongoing application process, the City had sought to appeal the department’s decision to decline its initial application last year.
“We had applied to the Gauteng health department for an operating licence and then the operating licence was not issued and the reason given by the then MEC (Bandile Masuku) was that they could not issue a licence because the emergency managers services were provincialised. What we are doing is not only an application for an operating licence, but also an appeal,” he said.
The department’s spokesperson Kwara Kekana said she was on leave and referred all questions to the department. However, at the time of going to publication there was still no response.