The Johannesburg Metro Council claims that more than 80% of priority emergency calls are responded to within 15 minutes, but last week I dealt with two tragic cases where an ambulance took more than 4 hours to arrive.
A 67-old-woman in severe pain from cancer was discharged by Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital on Thursday last week and dropped at the Umlusi home in Bertrams in east Johannesburg.
She was in severe distress and bleeding, and should never have been discharged, arriving with nothing more than a small packet of Panado.
Umlusi is an NGO that accommodates destitute mentally disturbed people but cannot provide medical care for severe illness.
Umlusi manager Martin Botha called Johannesburg emergency services shortly before 2pm to take her back to the hospital, but the ambulance only came at about 6pm.
Botha was told that there was a delay because there was only one ambulance in the area.
Later that day he had another bad experience when he called an ambulance for an elderly man at the nearby Park Village old age home. It also took 4 hours and he was given the same excuse that it was the only ambulance in the area.
I am deeply suspicious of the emergency response figures given by Johannesburg Metro Council. They claim that even low priority cases are virtually all responded to within an hour.
My view is that Johannesburg provides false figures to the Gauteng Health Department which delegates its responsibility for emergency services to the council. Instead of fixing the service, they fix the figures.
Horror stories abound of ambulances that take hours to arrive, which endangers peoples’ lives.
The Department should investigate what the real response times are, and take strong measures to ensure that Johannesburg residents get a decent emergency ambulance service.
Jack Bloom MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health
082 333 4222