The Democratic Alliance (DA) will today call for answers from KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu and her Department following the termination of the highly effective Air Mercy Services - commonly known as the Flying Doctor Service (FDS) - run in partnership with the Department, without any explanation or any apparent plans for a continued service of this kind.
Since its inception in 1998, thousands of KZN’s citizens have been helped as a result of the FDS which assists specialists and healthcare workers to travel to far-flung areas as quickly as possible with minimum delays and to treat patients at hospitals close to where they live, thereby reducing referrals to already-strained tertiary institutions in urban centres.
The programme has also helped in terms of early diagnosis of conditions as well as providing training and capacity building of staff, in particular nurses and doctors in outlying hospitals.
The DA is extremely concerned by the abrupt end of this programme. At a time when there is little that is positive within KZN’s DoH it makes no sense whatsoever to remove a programme that does so much good. Of equal concern is the remark that the DoH is reviewing the manner in which this service is provided and that a public announcement will be made once this process is completed.
This does not augur well for the people of our province given the length of time it takes for the DoH to come to any major decision. In the meantime, a critical service will be non-existent.
Meanwhile, the Department’s comment – that it does not discuss contracts or procurement processes in the media – is both arrogant and unacceptable. What are they hiding? As the DA, we are very concerned that this vital service was sacrificed as part of cost-cutting measures to mitigate the Department's financial woes.
The MEC and her Department have a duty to outline the reasons for the abrupt end to this service. It is for this reason that the DA has today submitted a written parliamentary question to MEC Simelane-Zulu (view here). The DA expects the MEC to reply to our questions within the two-week period according to the rules of the Legislature.
The DA remains committed to the fight to ensure that KZN’s patients receive the best possible service and care.
Issued by The DA