The national health department says it is against outsourcing emergency services. But with a grave shortage of ambulances, it may have no choice.
Just 1971 state ambulance vehicles are on the road nationally, a Bhekisisa survey reveals.
Health department guidelines say there should be at least 5 700 ambulances in operation — or one for every 10 000 people, according to standards quoted in the KwaZulu-Natal health department 2017 annual report. But with less than 2 000 actually functioning, there are only enough state emergency vehicles to cater for about a third of the population, data from provinces show.
A May audit of provincial health departments by the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) found shortages of ambulances and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel in several provinces.
In response, Bhekisisa requested the latest EMS vehicle and personnel numbers from all nine provinces. The Gauteng, North West, Western Cape, Mpumalanga, and Eastern Cape hea