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Transporting patients to other facilities: Sunyani Regional Hospital, National Ambulance Service in tango

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According to the National Ambulance Service, the fuel allocation is only for emergencies

The Sunyani Regional Hospital is reeling under pressure as it continues to finance the cost involved in transporting patients who have been referred from the facility to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi.
Even though the administrator of the Sunyani facility, Mr Samuel Dodzi, said it was not the responsibility of the hospital to do so, he told the Daily Graphic, “We are compelled to finance such trips when the need arises.”

According to him, even when officials from the National Ambulance Service (NAS) brought emergency cases to the facility and such patients had to be referred to KATH, the hospital had to fuel the ambulance before it would make the journey to Kumasi.

“We spend GH¢500 on each of such trips and this is draining our coffers,” he stated and asked whose responsibility it was to bear such expenses.

Whose responsibility?

“Is it the responsibility of the NAS or the health facilities to bear such a cost,” Mr Dodzi questioned and wondered why the NAS should not bear the cost of transporting referred emergency cases to other bigger medical facilities.

The Sunyani Regional Hospital, which receives referrals from almost all the 29 municipalities and districts in the Bono, Bono East and Ahafo regions and beyond also had to refer cases beyond its capabilities to KATH in Kumasi.

It currently, however, has only one ambulance and has to rely on the ambulances from the NAS to transport referred patients to Kumasi.

Mr Dodzi explained that in cases where the families of referred cases could afford, they had to pay for the cost of fuel when the hospital’s ambulance was used to transport patients to Kumasi for further treatment.

NAS response

However, when the Public Relations Officer of the NAS, Mr Simon Kewura, was reached, he explained that fuel provided to the NAS was used solely for emergency cases outside hospital facilities such as road accidents and women in labour, among others.

“If someone is admitted to a hospital and there is the need to refer such a patient to another facility that is not an emergency because that person is on admission,” he explained.

Mr Kewura said in such cases the hospitals which had ambulances had to work out how to transport the referred cases to another facility with the provision of fuel support from the family.

He stated that in instances where patients who had been asked to go for a CT Scan wanted to use an ambulance from the NAS, such patients had to provide fuel support.

Hospital referrals

“The fuel allocation is for emergencies so if we use it for hospital referrals, it will be difficult for us to provide services in time of emergencies,” Mr Kewura said.

As to whether the scrapping of the Ministry for Special Initiatives had affected operations of the NAS, he stated that even though nothing much had changed, it was easier for the service to get its allocations when it was under the defunct ministry.

“I can say yes or no. Yes, because the Ministry of Special Initiatives is now an agency and before it can provide whatever the NAS is looking for, such as fuel [allocation] it has to pass through a lot of bureaucratic processes. I can say yes or no because we are still getting our allocations,” he said.

NAS mission

The National Ambulance Service was established in 2004 as an agency of the Ministry of Health and a product of collaboration between the MOH and the Ghana National Fire Service.

As a statutory agency, NAS has been charged with a specific role and responsibilities of establishing and operating a nationwide comprehensive pre-hospital emergency care.
Since its inception, NAS has migrated from seven stations in three regions to its current status where it is present in all districts across the 16 regions of the country.

The mission of the service is to provide integrated, high quality pre-hospital emergency and medical care, health transport, medical retrieval and education services to the people and hope to achieve this through a system of trained operational staff and committed support staff in a compassionate, dignified and professional manner.

Source:Graphic Online

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