Non-emergency patient transport makes comprehensive health care possible
As an essential part of the emergency ambulance service in the Western Cape, HealthNET (Health Non-Emergency Transport) has made 41 097 passenger trips in the first three months of the year. This service of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) has made it possible for 50 198 patients, who for medical reasons could not use public transport, to attend their specialist outpatient clinics at regional and central hospitals, and other special clinics in rural areas.
Over 90 HealthNET vehicles are operating in the province. Patients are booked through a provincial health care facility using an online system that ensures that seats are allocated equitably and that no patients can be overbooked. The discharge of inpatients from hospitals either to home or step-down facilities in the Cape Metro district or rural areas is also an important service in ensuring bed availability in our hospitals.
Ensuring patient access to health care is a key goal of HealthNET. Sipho Mbovane, driver at EMS in Caledon, says he enjoys forming the personal connections with the patients he transports four times per week. “Mondays and Fridays are usually the busiest, and my passengers are from Caledon, Villiersdorp, Grabouw and Bot River who often need to be in Cape Town for their appointments or check-ups. I like how they always thank me whenever they have been transported back home safely. This shows that they appreciate the service, which we take pride in delivering.”
Over the weekend, EMS responded to 5 480 incidents across the province. Of these incidents, 33% were of a life-threatening nature and most patients were transported to the Tygerberg, Worcester and Groote Schuur Hospitals. Most incidents involved chest pains (887), weapon assaults (780), respiratory complaints (552), obstetric complains (332) and physical assaults (305).
With an escort from the South African Police Service (SAPS), our EMS crews also attended to various incidents in the permanent Red Zone neighbourhoods, such as Beacon Valley (38), Tafelsig (39), Hanover Park (25) and Chicago (3). The EMS remains appreciative of the SAPS’ and other law enforcement agencies' ongoing support, as this helps protect our crews and enables them to care for the most vulnerable patients.
We thank our emergency medical responders who continue to work tirelessly to provide ambulance services, special operations, and patient transport to residents in the Western Cape every day. Dial 10177 or 112 from cellphones in case of an emergency.