EDITORIAL | New ambulance rules a step forward

PREMIUM

As South Africans went to the polls on Wednesday, they did so having been bombarded over the past few months with all sorts of promises from politicians as to why their particular party was the best to deliver on those pledges.
There is, as has been repeatedly highlighted in the pre-election vote-swaying campaigns, a catalogue of pressing issues which affect a large proportion of citizens negatively – be it service delivery, housing, crime or education.
But one which repeatedly rears its head whether an individual is only a few days old or a nonagenarian is the level of healthcare which, as has also been extensively reported for years, so often falls short and puts lives as risk.
This, whether it be understaffed state hospitals, absence of essential equipment, lack of emergency responses or claims of outright negligence.
This is why, amid all the electioneering noise in recent days, news of a new law compelling ambulance and medical response companies to meet minimum criteria or get the chop will come as a relief to those who have suffered at the hands of what many medical service providers admit is often substandard care.
Importantly, the regulations govern both state and private emergency services to ensure a standardised minimum level of safe treatment.
This, if exercised and monitored with due diligence, is crucial to removing the perception that those who are forced to rely on government healthcare and emergency treatment are always on the receiving end of inferior – and possibly life-threatening – medical attention.
The provincial health department says the major compliance gaps are likely to be in infrastructure and adequately skilled personnel in some stations – both private and public. Again, just because a provider is privately owned does not necessarily mean it is meeting required standards and those who cannot afford the costs of doing so will rightly get the boot.
We have had many healthcare failings for too long – these new laws must be applied to the hilt and acted upon...

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