Paramedics bear the brunt of instruction not to exceed overtime

Emergency Services personnel in Msukaligwa are faced with a dilemma after the Department of Health (DoH) received a directive from the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) that paramedics should not exceed 30 per cent overtime.

This instruction has seen the government emergency personnel at loggerheads with management.

As previously reported by the Highvelder, a report recently surfaced and came to the attention of the newspaper that said two ambulances were suspended in Msukaligwa and paramedics must not work overtime, which would have affected services.

Other alarming revelations in the reports were:

• No early or late transfers to be conducted.

• Nurses will no longer transfer patients with the ambulance personnel because they are not insured.

• There will be no ambulance in Breyten.

However, DoH in the Gert Sibande District disputed the revelations, saying it is business as usual for government emergency care workers.

The communications manager of the DoH in the district, Mr Sibusiso Mabuza, said their paramedics are working overtime.

“At provincial or national level, there is no attempt or any instruction to stop overtime for emergency care workers.”

However, local paramedics say this is not true.

“We cannot work in excess of 30 per cent because we will not be paid the overtime,” said one paramedic who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of intimidation.

His statement has been confirmed by the provincial DoH, who after an inquiry, admitted that paramedics have been instructed not to exceed the percentage.

“What needs to be noted is that the capping of overtime to 30 per cent is a DPSA directive and does not come from the DoH and this needs to be complied with,” says Ms Nolwazi Ndlovu, the DoH Communications, Media Liaison and Monitoring officer in the province.

The instruction has left emergency personnel frustrated over the shortage of staff which means ambulances cannot function in some instances.

“We are verbally abused by the public who hurl insults at us because they do not know that our hands are also tied,” said another paramedic.

He added that they do not mind to work overtime, but that they should then be paid.

In the previous inquiry, Mr Mabuza had pointed out that Msukaligwa sub-district has six functional ambulances.

The province also confirmed this.

• Three ambulances are allocated to Ermelo Hospital.

• Two allocated to Silindile Community Health Centre (Lothair Clinic).

• One allocated to UbuhleBempilo (Breyten Clinic).

However, paramedics asked what the use of these ambulances is if they are going to stand idle.

Ms Ndlovu said there are times when paramedics go on leave and they experience a shortage of emergency care workers.

“The DoH is currently working on appointing more paramedics to increase the staff complement,” she said.

Mr Mabuza also said the DoH is in the process of procuring additional ambulances for the province to ensure quality service is provided by their institutions.

Until then, paramedics of Msukaligwa are appealing to the public to be patient with them as they go about doing their jobs.

 

  AUTHOR
Amanda Mthembu
Journalist

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