Mpumalanga MEC for health, Gillion Mashego, has warned emergency health workers in Mpumalanga, most especially the ones that drive the ambulances, to desist from using ambulances for obscure purposes.
Emergency health workers in Mpumalanga have been accused severally of using the ambulances assigned to them to check up on love partners, buy and drink alcohol, and steal sleep while the public await their services.
An angry Mpumalanga MEC for health, Gillion Mashego, revealed this amid warnings that he would fire those emergency personnel who abuse the use of ambulances.
During an official launch of 32 new ambulances, 18 mobile clinics and 12 multipurpose vehicles in Mbombela on Wednesday, Mashego addressed more than 100 paramedics.
One time I sent people to look for an ambulance that was reported parked next to a road. Indeed the driver was found to have been tired – from alcohol.
These vehicles are not for checking your girlfriends or for buying a bottle of whisky.
The worst is what happened in Gert Sibande in December when an ambulance was spotted with sheep stolen from a farm. So now the cars do not work for people, we steal from them.
He warned that the days of using ambulances for personal and selfish purpose were over, and anybody found wanting will himself to blame.
He added that ambulances must be used to respond on time to emergency calls made by the public and should not be handled by drunk personnel. Defaulters will surely lose their job and will be replaced in a twinkle of an eye.
If we find out that a driver is drunk or in a tavern, I must fire people. I am going to fire you, advertise the post on Monday, and while we fight you in court I will be rendering services to the people.
Emergency Medical Services director Dr Clive Sibande said that since the opening of three call centres in the area, the province’s response time had improved.
We have three call centres now, one in Ehlanzeni, one in Gert Sibande and one in Nkangala. This is meant to speed up the response to patients.
He also said that some officials at the call centres have been disciplined based on the complaints from the public. The calls at the call centres are being recorded to help investigate any complaint from callers.
On the issue of officials at the call centres being rude or not giving help, we record our calls – people can complain and we will retrieve the recording and know what happened, and as we speak we have disciplined some officials at the call centres.
It is really unacceptable that ambulances would be converted to brothels and taverns by emergency health workers who should be on high alert to respond to emergency calls. This must stop to avoid loss of lives that could have been avoided.