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Eastern Cape cancels air ambulance tender over bidder non-compliance

A second effort to establish an air ambulance service for the Eastern Cape has failed to take off after the Health Department said the companies that bid for the tender did not comply with specifications, meaning ambulance crews in the province will again be without medical air support for the festive season.

Last year, from the start of December 2021 to mid-January 2022, at least 210 people died in traffic accidents in the province, reports Daily Maverick.

However, in February, Health MEC Nomakhosazana Meth, speaking in the Eastern Cape legislature, denied the fatalities could be blamed on the lack of air ambulances, saying emergency services could still respond by road.

Her spokesperson, Mkhululi Ndamase, said the tender was cancelled as the two bids received “did not meet all the mandatory requirements”.

It is understood this finding will be disputed.

“The department (due to the technical issues) thought it necessary to seek independent legal opinion and also engaged the Treasury, (which) was also of the same opinion,” Ndamase said.

A new call on bidders is expected to be advertised before the end of November, and close after 21 days.

Meanwhile, the province is using private medical aviation service providers to transport patients on medical emergencies to neighbouring provinces, but they do not attend to trauma cases and accidents.

Previously, the contract was awarded to Leli Investments, a newcomer to the industry that had partnered with an established company, but industry insiders said the prices offered were so low it would have been impossible to provide the service. Their partner then withdrew.

The joint venture between Leli Investments and Black Eagle was terminated in August 2021, but Leli indicated to the Health Department that it still wanted to continue to provide a service. Yet from August 2021, when it was appointed, to 31 December 2021, it was unable to put a single helicopter in the air.

Meth said a legal demand was sent to Leli to remedy this breach of contract and the department cancelled the contract on 31 December 2021.

In February, Meth had reiterated that the province needed an air ambulance service and said one would be up and running by June.

 

Daily Maverick article – Eastern Cape Health Department cancels air ambulance tender over bidder non-compliance (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

MEC urged to intervene in ongoing Eastern Cape ambulance protests

 

Patients suffer as Eastern Cape ambulance crisis remains unresolved

 

'As much as a third' of Eastern Cape ambulance fleet in for repairs'

 

 

 

 

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