Due to staff shortages, the Department of Health in the Eastern Cape has had to halve the number of state ambulances on the road. The number of ambulances available in the province has gone from 447 to about 250.
According to government guidelines, the number of government ambulances in a province the size of the Eastern Cape should have is about 1 000.
According to a report in News24, there is a general shortage of emergency medical workers in the province. Over the past five years only 30 paramedics have graduated with a degree in emergency medical care from Nelson Mandela University, the only institution in the province which offers such a qualification.
It remains to be seen whether the government’s proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme – the effective nationalization of all healthcare in the country – will prevent issues such as these once it is implemented.