The Road Accident Fund (RAF) says it will re-evaluate its relationship with private ambulances following a recent protest.
“We have to look into the relationships and the contractual obligations that we have with the service providers. We need to establish a common ground so that these problems do not arise in future.” said William Maphutha, RAF spokesperson.
Maphutha was responding to the protest by members of the KwaZulu-Natal Private Ambulances Association, where they held a 100-ambulance procession to the RAF offices in Durban.
The association is recently formed organisation of about 25 emergency services companies operating over 100 ambulances across the province.
The relationship between private ambulance services and the RAF is that private ambulances can assist someone who has been in an accident. The private ambulance company can either claim from the insurance company or the government (RAF), depending on whether the person has medical aid or not.
The association claims they are owed in excess of R10 million by the RAF for work dating back to March.
However, Maphutha said he could not verify that figure.
“The invoices need to be verified with other stakeholders and whether (hospital) records correspond with the claims being made. Money involves accountability, if we are not accountable there might be audit problems in future,” said Maphutha.
Association chairperson Andile Nduli said non-payment was putting strain on the companies.
“As small businesses, this affects us as it forces us to pull some of our vehicles from the road,” he said.
“We are always the first on scene as private ambulances, we help people on the road after accidents but when it comes to money to come into our bank accounts after delivering our services it’s delayed.”
In the most recent financial report, RAF had a net deficit (liabilities exceeding assets) of R262 billion as of last year, with the auditor-general describing the state insurer’s solvency status as “unsustainable”.
The RAF is funded mainly through the fuel levy tax, which Maphutha said was one of two problems that created the non-payments backlog.
“The lockdown also played a part because movement on roads was restricted so people were obviously not buying petrol and that affected the monthly grant RAF gets,” he said.
“There was also a backlog created by many of the staff working from home and not being able to engage with the physical and tangible evidence that forms a big part of our claims process.”
This article first appeared on Berea Mail and was republished with permission.