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South Africa : North West Health Department spends R8.8m on patient transport.

In an effort to accelerate the delivery of quality health services to communities of the North West province, MEC for Health Dr Magome Masike today dispersed 17 new ambulances and two mobile dental trucks to service rural communities of North West. Out of these 17 new ambulances, seven were allocated to Dr. Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District, five to Ngaka Modiri Molema District, three to Bojanala District and two will service Dr. Kenneth Kaunda District.

The developments come as the department charts ways to aggressively respond to the plight of communities and to improve response time to medical emergencies.

A total of R14 million has been set aside to purchase 30 more ambulances during this financial year. A further R84.25 million will be channeled towards Emergency Medical Rescue Service (EMRS) Satellite Stations and a new planned patient transport model.

The new model will provide basic transport for patients from clinics to community health centres and hospitals. This would free up ambulances to concentrate on only responding to emergency calls. This together with acquisition of new ambulances will help improve response time as emergency vehicles are placed closer to communities they serve.

The model was adopted after realising that the majority of cases done by EMRS were not emergencies but patients requiring transport.

Seventy percent of patients that do not have an emergency condition are utilising the services of ambulances to reach hospitals, as they have no access to a coordinated public transport system, resulting in a burden on the already overstretched EMRS System.

To augment the 165 public health ambulances, the department has entered into a fee per service agreement with 16 private ambulances operators to ferry patients during emergencies. Private ambulance operators are only utilised when a state ambulance is not immediately available to respond to an emergency call. This is to ensure that service recipients are not in any way compromised by unavailability of an ambulance.

Ambulances in the province ferry about 16 000 patients per month.

The department acquired the services of emergency helicopter in 2013 to augment ambulance services. The acquisition of the helicopter has made it possible for emergency transfers from rural areas to be done quickly, as this has cut down on the normal long driving hours. The aeromedical service is not only used to respond to emergencies; it is used for specialised services to remote areas. In cases where some of our patients in remote areas are in urgent need of specialised services, a specialist will be sent to them via aero medical services.

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Publication:Mena Report
Date:Jul 25, 2014
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