Dzulkefly Pledges Action As Health Ministry’s Probe On Ambulance Crash Nears End

By Boo Su-Lyn | 03 September 2019

Ambulances from Slim River Hospital and Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital encountered fatal crashes allegedly caused by burst tyres.

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PUTRAJAYA, Sept 3 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) is close to completing its investigation on a recent road traffic accident involving a Slim River Hospital ambulance that killed two people.

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said he could not elaborate on what actions MOH would take to improve the safety of government ambulances, pending recommendations by the ministry’s internal probe on the August 4 ambulance crash.

“We’re about at the tail end of this report, and soonest as I got the report, I’ll communicate with the media, I promise you that.

“As for now, I’m not able to elaborate over all the causative factors, but as soon as I get the final report, I’ll communicate with the media,” Dzulkefly told a press conference after launching a breastfeeding fashion show organised by MOH and Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) here today.

He stressed, however, that MOH must take action to improve ambulance safety.

“It’s so important to ensure the safety of patients, safety of our own staff, especially doctors, drivers, and more importantly, patient safety. So yes, according to recommendations, we’ll be taking action pursuing this.”

Last August 4, a Slim River Hospital ambulance crashed in Slim River, Perak, killing the driver and patient, which early police investigations said was caused by a burst tyre. Three weeks later, the tyre of another ambulance from the MOH hospital exploded on August 28, but the vehicle didn’t get into an accident.

Several Slim River Hospital staff have complained that the public hospital’s ambulances previously suffered tyre bursts up to three times this year before the fatal August 4 accident, and three more times last year. Those incidents didn’t result in crashes.

An ambulance from Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital crashed in July 2018, also allegedly due to a tyre blowout, causing a patient’s death and leaving the surviving doctor on crutches and with a permanent disability of foot drop.

Dr Khaveenraj Devarajah, a medical officer from the government hospital in Sungai Petani, Kedah, has also yet to receive compensation for his work-related injuries more than a year later.

When asked about Dr Khaveenraj’s compensation, Dzulkefly said this would be “tackled comprehensively”.

Dr Khaveenraj told CodeBlue that the Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital director met with him earlier today to expedite his compensation.

UEM Edgenta oversees ambulance maintenance in Slim River Hospital, Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital and 30 other MOH hospitals in the northern region.

The government-linked company has a 10-year concession with MOH ending 2025 to provide hospital support services to those hospitals in Kedah, Perak, Penang, and Perlis.

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