More paramedics need to be trained, says union

Written by Zizo Zikali

The addition of emergency vehicles to the Eastern Cape fleet is welcomed but a trade union says more staff is also needed.

Following a recent hand over of 129 emergency vehicles to the Eastern Cape Department of Health, the majority trade union in the province believes the department should ensure that the rollout of emergency vehicles is done alongside human resources.

Manpower needed 

In an interview with OurHealth, National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) provincial chairperson Miki Jaceni says the department shouldn’t supply emergency vehicles without supplying human resources to man the vehicles.

“We have been engaging the Department of Health for more than four years to employ staff but there have been only promises,” he says. 

“The emergency medical services employees embarked on a strike last year and some of the issues they raised haven’t been resolved. There is not enough staff to operate the ambulances rolled out. There was a moratorium on the appointment of general workers including drivers, [but] its only professionals that were hired.” 

Jaceni adds that personnel working under traumatic situations are subjected to counselling every now and then due to the nature of their work but the unavailability of that service is the reason paramedics take a lot of sick leave. 

A relief 

The addition of these vehicles has been applauded by residents like Lwazi Siyothula of Nkululekweni Village, Flagstaff who lost his wife in 2017.

An ambulance was called when Siyothula’s wife experienced seizures but the ambulance didn’t arrive in time and she lost her life.

“It was a very traumatic experience… that could have been avoided if the ambulance arrived on time.  The rolling out of ambulances is a great step [in] the right direction to improve health services,” says Siyothula.

Joint effort 

Speaking at his officiating address in Bhisho last week, Eastern Cape Premier Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane says this is a collaborative effort by Provincial Government, including the Department of Transport and the Department of Health.

He says: “We are serious and we are about speaking less, doing more, and opening communication lines with the citizens of the Eastern Cape. Rural areas in the province were the first priority in distributing these vehicles.”

Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba says they acknowledge the challenges experienced however it will be adequately addressed in the upcoming Health Summit and the strategic planning session the department has planned. 

She adds that the province will receive another 179 vehicles to add to the current fleet. – Health-e News

About the author

Zizo Zikali

Zizo Zikali is our Eastern Cape based citizen journalist who also heads news at Inkonjane Community Radio in Flagstaff. Under her leadership, the news team is receiving recognition from local government and is the defending champion for Alfred Nzo District Municipality Annual Award for Best Innovative Current Affairs Programme. Zizo has over six years experience in community media and worked for organisations such as Voice of Tembisa FM from 2011-2014 and Inkonjane community Radio since 2014. Her educational qualifications include an Advanced Radio Certificate from University of the Witwatersrand obtained in 2016 and a Human Resources Management qualification from the Durban University of Technology obtained in 2008.