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The Ministry of Health has commenced the procurement process to purchase twenty five (25) ambulances for the public health sector. The new ambulances are expected to replace the fourteen (14) that have been written off and augment the existing fleet across the Health Regions.
Over the last week, five Benz ambulances that were repaired have been collected by the Western, Northeast, South East and Southern Regional Health Authorities. The repairs to the ambulance for the Northeast Region were completed since early September but the Region failed to collect the unit.
“The Ministry has over the years sought to enhance its fleet of ambulances and in fact made a significant purchase of 40 ambulances for over US$1.46M with a three year service contract valued at US$521,000. These ambulances were purchased under the Cricket World Cup Project,” explains Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer.
In a review of ambulance utilization for the period January to May 2010, data gathered from the four Regions has shown that there were 4577 emergency calls received and 4340 emergency responses made. The total number of patients that required transfers between health institutions during the period was 11920. In this regard, the number of transfers done by ambulances was 11,344 with a ratio of one patient per transfer. What this data has shown is that despite the challenges faced with the inadequacy of the fleet, the public health sector has been able to respond reasonably well to the demands of the public. In fact, our response rate is over 95%. While we strive for a perfect score, the figure does not indicate as is being posited by an article in the media that the ambulance service “is in shambles”.
The Ministry will continue to monitor those vehicles that are now in the repair shop to ensure that they are back in service as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, the Ministry continues to explore other options of service delivery including public/private arrangements.