The North West provincial government has spent more than R21 million purchasing 65 vehicles in preparation for the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI).
Addressing journalists in Mahikeng over the weekend, North West Health MEC Magome Masike said resources would be needed to effectively implement the NHI.
"Communities have complained about our emergency medical rescue services (EMRS) response time. I am therefore proud to announce that we have added 65 services delivery vehicles to our red fleet at a combined fee of R21.5-million.
"The new fleet includes 31 ambulances, 18 mobile clinics, eight patient transports, two dental trucks and six Forensic Pathology vehicles. The vehicles will be distributed equitably guided by our needs analysis and population register," said Masike.
Masike said the development comes as the department charts ways to aggressively respond to the plight of communities in the province.
He said the vehicles would help the province respond to communities in time.
"We are planning to establish and fund EMRS satellite stations in the districts to improve response times. In line with the primary health care reengineering programme, we are on course to reengineer emergency medical services to improve the response times of ambulances to all communities to be in line with national targets."
Masike also warned drivers of the department's vehicles that negligence and misuse of the vehicles would not be accepted.
"We have previously dealt with cases of negligent driving on the part of our drivers. The end results of this negligent behaviour has been that some of our ambulances spent more time in garages being serviced when they are supposed to be attending to emergencies on the road.
"This has led to a substantial shortfall. I must warn that negligence is not tolerated and we will not hesitate to deal with those who are responsible. These vehicles are not for personal use, they are not for shopping groceries or for delivering beverages. Our communities need to assist us by reporting any anomalies concerning service delivery vehicles."
The MEC also announced that the national Treasury has awarded a tender for aero medical services for specialised services to remote areas.
"In case some of our patients in remote areas are in urgent need of specialized services, a specialist will be sent to them via aero medical services," Masike said.