EMS union says Limpopo has more ambulances than paramedics 

a fleet of ambulances

Limpopo Health MEC, Dr Phophi Ramathuba recently handed over 165 new ambulances. But the South African Emergency Personnel’s Union (SAEPU) is not happy. 

SAEPU president, Mpho Mpogeng says that these ambulances might end up not being used due to the shortages of emergency personnel in the province. 

The new ambulances are part of the 566 that Ramathuba promised to procure in her 2023/2024 budget speech. The ambulances were allocated to the different emergency medical services (EMS) stations across the province.

“We congratulate the department for addressing the shortage of ambulances in the province. But without hiring more emergency personnel, the ambulances won’t bring change in the communities,” Mpogeng says to Health-e News. 

“If there’s no staff, the ambulances will just be placed at the EMS stations and accumulate dust.” 

He says that Limpopo has a shortage of emergency personnel because most qualified emergency personnel move to Gauteng for better opportunities. And Gauteng regularly advertises job posts for emergency workers. 

Mpogeng says that Limpopo rarely advertises any emergency personnel posts, the province should hire more emergency personnel so that the shortage will be lessened. 

He adds that when the union raises concerns they are always deemed as if they are against the department.

 

Residents voice frustrations

Following the announcement and handover of the ambulances on the Limpopo Department of Health’s Facebook page, the comment section was flooded with questions and concerns from community members regarding the shortages of emergency workers and how they are affected as residents. 

“Every month, you are handing over the ambulances, but there are no job posts for the emergency personnel,” commented one resident. 

“This fleet needs crews, and I doubt we might see posts anytime from Limpopo since they haven’t advertised them in a while. It would be better if they can advertise at least 200 each for both [basic life support] BLS and [intermediate life support] ILS,” another resident. 

“Last year the MEC allocated 12 ambulances to Philadelphia Hospital, as the hospital was operating with 2 ambulances, and that had a bad impact on us as we had to wait for longer waiting hours. Despite the increase in ambulances, we still wait longer hours as the hospital is operating with 6 ambulances,” another resident commented.

Department response

Speaking to Health-e News, the spokesperson for the MEC, Thivhali Muavha, dismisses the allegations that the province is faced with shortages of emergency personnel. 

“Every ambulance has a crew, which includes two people, who will be given the ambulance and they will be responsible for the ambulance and those people even took an oath to ensure that they will take care of the ambulance and also meet the medical needs of community members.” 

Muavha says the department is working tirelessly in different steps to ensure that the people of Limpopo have enough ambulances in all their 57 EMS stations. 

“We acknowledge that this is a work in process, and we are currently working on two steps and we are done with the first step, which was to provide the tools of trade [the ambulances]. This comes after we realised that there’s a shortage of ambulances in the province.” 

He explains that the province is currently working on the second step. 

“Step number 2, is to make sure that the province hires more personnel, and it’s a work in process, and it won’t happen overnight. However, the current ambulances have personnel that will work on them. [like I said, each ambulance has a crew of two people].” 

“The people of Limpopo must be very appreciative that they have enough ambulances.” He adds. – Health-e News

Author

  • Oratile Kekana

    Oratile is a journalism graduate from the Tshwane University of Technology. Her journalism journey began at Zebediela FM, where she worked as a news reader. At university, she joined TUT FM as a presenter and producer. She later interned at the Polokwane Observer, where she worked as a general reporter and photographer. In her free time, she’s also a TikTok content creator.

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