After two weeks Tshwane ambulances back on beat
Share this article:
Pretoria - After accusations, counter accusations and finger pointing between the Gauteng Health Department and the City of Tshwane, the metro has been given the go-ahead to resume its ambulance operation after a stoppage of almost two weeks.
This follows a recent public spat between the two parties over the rationale behind a decision by the department to cease the metro's emergency medical services after its temporary licence expired on January 21.
However, the department appeared to have changed its stance when the acting head Lesiba Arnold Malotana sent a letter to the City to effectively allow for the resumption of ambulance operations.
Malotana’s letter, seen by the Pretoria News, granted the municipality a three-month exemption to operate ambulances “in terms of the National Health Act’s Emergency Management Services Regulations pending the finalisation of the license application”.
The service resumption was granted on condition that the City confirmed that it would offer the service at no cost to the provincial department. Tshwane MMC for community safety and emergency services, Karen Meyerd, said the City had already given an undertaking that it would render the service using its allocated funding.
She said: “The rendering of our emergency medical service, including the ambulances, has been fully funded by the council from its own funds for years.
“Residents are accordingly reminded to contact the city’s 24/7 toll-free emergency hotline on 107 from any landline or cellphone for fire, rescue, ambulance and disaster response services.”
Meyerd expressed hope that the application process for the full licence would be finalised soon. The bone of contention stemmed from the department’s about-turn to disregard an agreement it had with the metro to extend its emergency services operating licence for a further 12 months.
In its defence, the department said the decision was in line with the 2009 resolution by the provincial executive council, to take over the services from municipalities “in order to improve efficiencies with regards to the provision of quality emergency medical services”.
The department further accused the DA-led municipality of being in the pocket of an unspecified service provider wanting to take over emergency services.
DA provincial spokesperson for health and MPL Jack Bloom called on MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi to intervene in the impasse, which led to at least 78 municipal ambulances being grounded.
Meanwhile, workers who spoke to the Pretoria News said the full impact of the grounding of Tshwane ambulances on the public had not yet been determined.