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Mediclinic News : ‘Private ambulances uncaring’

Title

‘Private ambulances uncaring’

Date

2016-10-28

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News Description

THE STAR The “uncaring” practice by some private ambulance companies of leaving patients who cannot afford to pay for medical services “to die” instead of stabilising them and taking them to hospital is soon going to be a thing of the past. Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said yesterday “no ambulance will be allowed to abandon patients who cannot afford to pay for services”. Motsoaledi painted a depressing picture of the private health sector, saying it did not care about the poor, despite getting a staggering R46-billion subsidy from the state each year. He said this had to be corrected by the National Health Insurance (NHI). Motsoaledi said the government would soon pass a policy that would see private and public ambulances dispatched from a central service in order to attend to patients. He said the ambulance dispatched first must not demand money from the patient. They must save them first and look for money later. He said the law that was in the pipeline emanated from a study conducted by Professor Lee Wallis of the division of emergency medicine at the University of Cape Town, which was conducted around the world. Motsoaledi said Wallis, who recently concluded the study, also recommended that both private and public ambulances should have similar colours. He said they recommended that we get one emergency number for all ambulance services in the country. Motsoaledi said the country had enough ambulances, but most of them were only available to 16 percent of the population, which was either wealthy or had medical aid. The Minister could not say when the new law would be implemented, except to say “very soon”, and that the NHI had already started “at a low scale”. He said through the current health funding policy, which he wished to amend, private healthcare institutions were eating up a big chunk of state funds through subsidies from the National Treasury and tax incentives. He said South Africa had far exceeded the World Health Organisation’s recommendation that countries should spend at least five percent of their gross domestic product on healthcare. Motsoaledi said the country was spending 8.5 percent on its healthcare, which was closer to the nine percent spent on average by European countries. He expressed concern that more than half of the 8.5 percent - 4.4 percent - was spent subsidising healthcare for 16 percent of the population. Motsoaledi said his department recently conducted a pilot project on the NHI where it screened the health status of 2-million schoolchildren in poor communities and found that most of them could hardly cope at school because of eyesight, hearing and speech problems. They needed to be treated by audiologists, optometrists and oral hygienists, he said, adding that he wanted them to go and see those kids, but it cannot happen in the present situation. To go to the private sector, you must have lots of money and medical aid, he said.
Created at 2016/10/31 08:39 AM by Mediclinic
Last modified at 2016/10/31 08:39 AM by Mediclinic