Western Cape health concerned about ambulance problems

The Western Cape Health Department admits that it is aware unethical ambulance services are operating...

Workers convert a normal van into an ambulance. Picture: Nathan Adams/Eyewitness News

The Western Cape Health Department admits that it is aware unethical ambulance services are operating across the province.

Legislation regulating ambulance services is in the process of being passed in Parliament, but at the moment the secotr is considered a free for all.

Anyone who wishes to be an ambulance services operator may set up a business.

However, Western Cape Health MEC Marius Fransman says he aims to regulate the industry this year.

“I started this particular portfolio in August last year. Those were one of the immediate things I indentified as a serious issue and what we’ve done is to pass a law in the provincial parliament at the end of last year,” says Fransman.

Meanwhile, <?xml:namespace prefix="st1" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags"?><city w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Cape Town’s Head of Emergency Medical Services says that legislation must be passed urgently.

There is currently no law governing the ownership and operation of such services in the province.

Doctor Cleeve Robertson says it is disconcerting that anyone who has managed to acquire the necessary vehicle and resources is able to operate at an accident scene.

He adds that illicit ambulance operators who extort money from victims must be brought to book.

“I would certainly frown on that kind of practice. It’s a form of extortion and somebody who is lying injured or ill on the side of the road is extremely vulnerable and if services are taking cash or demanding cash for services provided I would see that as immoral and completely unethical."

Robertson also says that people must report ambulance providers to the Health Professionals Council of South Africa.