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Desperate ambulance staff on edge as they await remuneration

Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 31, 2020

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Owed millions of rand for emergency services during lockdown, many paramedics and their families are in a desperate struggle to make ends meet.

Yesterday, members of the KZN Private Ambulance Association (KPAA) said they had received no payments from the Road Accident Fund (RAF) since March, the start of lockdown.

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This is despite being an essential service during the pandemic and working in a high-stress industry, exacerbated by the threat of contracting Covid-19 when treating accident victims.

The KPAA consists of 26 private am­bulance services, with more than 800 employees.

Private ambulance services from across KZN gathered at King Dinuzulu Park yesterday morning and drove in convoy along Dr Pixley kaSeme Street to the RAF offices in central Durban.

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They went on a 24-hour suspension of emergency services to those who did not have medical aid or insurance, with emergency response only resuming at midnight last night.

As traffic jammed in the central city area there was a visible police presence, but ambulance providers stressed it was a peaceful march.

When the convoy stopped outside the RAF offices and while waiting for officials to appear so they could hand over their memorandum of grievances, KPAA acting chair, Andile Nduli, said: “We are all small businesses and we operate in a stressful environment.

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“But it’s more stressful if we don’t have money, it’s putting more strain on us and our families. We are on the frontline, but we are also breadwinners for our families who are relying on us.”

He said the emergency service providers had bought their own PPE equipment at the start of lockdown, as well as having to bear normal expenses, which include salaries and high petrol costs.

Nduli called on President Cyril Ramaphosa, Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize and Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula to assist with their plight.

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Related Topics:

Lockdown

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