About 100 emergency ambulances in Gauteng are usually not operational for various reasons, including lack of staff and long periods spent in workshops for repairs.
This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
According to Ramokgopa, the operational reasons include “pool ambulances, varied shift sizes, demand trends in terms of staffing and additional capacity for mass casualty incidents.”
There were 87 ambulance accidents in 2015 and 2016, and repairs cost R21.83 million.
According to international norms, there should be one ambulance for every 10 000 people. This means we should have 1340 ambulances to service 13.4 million people in Gauteng, but we only have 893 which includes 120 private ambulances.
The assessed response time for Gauteng ambulances is 65% of Priority 1 calls within 15 minutes, as compared to the 80% world class standard. Many people would challenge the department’s figures as long waits for ambulances are common.
We need to use existing ambulances more efficiently and buy new ambulances, but last year the department underspent the budget for Emergency Management Services (EMS) by R92 million.
Management needs to improve drastically to ensure that as many ambulances as possible are on the roads to save the lives of emergency patients.