Gauteng’s public emergency services now run by Provincial Health Department
In a statement from the Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH), the process to provincialise Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is now complete with the City of Ekurhuleni being the last municipality. To ensure efficiency and improve emergency response times, all emergency ambulance services in Gauteng are now run entirely by the provincial Department of Health. Departmental spokesperson, Kwara Kekana, said the migration was finalised on 30 June 2020 bringing to conclusion a process that started in 2012 with Sedibeng District Municipality. A total of 800 people are expected to be employed on a permanent basis over the next 12 months through the provincialisation of Ekurhuleni EMS.
The Gauteng Department of Health has also allocated R294 million for the 2020-21 financial year for the procurement of new ambulances and other categories of emergency vehicles, Kekana said.
“The Gauteng executive council decided to provincialise EMS in 2009 in order to improve efficiencies with regards to quality service provision and achieve a seamless EMS operation”, added Kekana.
Kekana said the move was in line with Act 108 of 1996 Schedule 4 of the Constitution, which provides that healthcare services are a concurrent competence of national and provincial government and further, the national health Act provides that EMS is a provincial competence.
She said the Gauteng Health Department has over the years subcontracted municipalities as agents to render emergency medical services. “That model has proved to be inefficient and very costly,” Kekana stated, adding that Gauteng had been the only province where EMS was not yet fully provincialised post-1994. “The provincialisation will lead to a realignment of services, operational efficiencies, provide a seamless, equitable service across the province with single management structure and command and control centre, regardless of municipal boundaries,” she said.
“The provincialisation model is intended to eliminate various gaps in the previous system of agencies with the local government throughout the province. These include multiple call-taking and dispatch centres which are not linked in real-time for optimal response, including optimised resource coordination. The department believed that, furthermore, this process will also eliminate the fragmentation of services, lack of coordination between public and private services to optimise resources.”
In June 2020 Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku tabled the department’s budget, where he announced that R294 million has been set aside for the procurement of emergency vehicles. “This year we are investing more funds to procure additional EMS vehicles, to the tune of R294 million,” he said. “This translates to 290 ambulances, categorised as follows: 90 intermediate life support ambulances, 160 multipurpose ambulances 40 planned patience transport vehicles.”
Masuku said the provincial government has increased security measures in more than 900 state ambulances. “We have fitted 940 EMS vehicles with tracking devices and we remain hopeful our community outreach will help us arrest this negative development on attacks on our EMS.”
Emergency contact numbers for EMS are 112 from a cell phone and 10177 from a landline. Alternatively, people can use the Gauteng Department of Health’s Mpilo app for the ambulance e-haling feature.
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