Gauteng’s emergency response times to save lives are hindered by a high accident rate, with 259 ambulances involved in accidents in 2020 and 2021.
This information was revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
According to Mokgethi, R8.3 million was spent on accident repairs, and 40 disciplinary hearings were held concerning these accidents, which resulted in final written warnings for misconduct.
I am greatly concerned that more than one in five of Gauteng’s 1221 emergency ambulances were involved in accidents over a two-year period.
Some of these ambulances were written off, and others were off the road for a long time because of slow repairs.
Currently, 140 ambulances are not operational, which leads to lives being lost due to slow response times. The department says that these ambulances are not in service because “daily downtime that sees vehicles taken for scheduled services, and unplanned (breakdowns) repairs and maintenance.”
According to international standards, Gauteng should have one ambulance for every 10 000 people as well as 10% more for a buffer, which amounts to 1795 ambulances.
We are therefore short of about 600 ambulances to provide a decent emergency service.
Better management is needed to cut down on reckless ambulance driving and to ensure that people needing emergency care are reached as soon as possible.