The Professional Board for Emergency Care at the Health Professions Council of South Africa recently released a draft copy of the revised Clinical Practice Guidelines, or CPG’s, with the aim to obtaining comment from a number of stakeholders within the emergency medical services in South Africa.
As with any major change in the EMS industry, the draft CPG document has generated a fair amount of controversy and debate.
The draft CPG document has revealed a combination of protocol changes to the BLS, ILS and ALS scopes of practice. While all of the proposed changes will need thorough evaluation and comment.
It is notably the changes to some of the advanced life support scopes of practice that have generated the most heated discussions and which may have the most wide spread consequences on service delivery within South Africa.
Current statistics from the HPCSA show that there are 1 586 practitioners registered in the “Paramedic” category in South Africa, and 468 practitioners in the “ECP” category. While provinces such as Gauteng, Kwazulu Natal and the Western Cape show higher numbers of ECP practitioners, other provinces like the North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo have fewer than 10 ECP practitioners each, the Eastern Cape and Free State each have fewer than 20 ECP practitioners each and the Northern Cape has no ECP practitioners. These numbers do not bode well for ALS patients requiring intensive ALS interventions and service delivery to a number of the most rural and semi- rural populations is bound to suffer the most. The long term effects on the mortality and morbidity of the South African population as a result of the suggestions contained within the draft CPG document are of serious concern.
SAPAESA has received a copy of the draft CPG’s from the national Department of Health and has been requested to submit our comment to the Department. A number of SAPAESA representatives are working with special interest groups around the country and will ensure that SAPAESA submits a comprehensive submission to the Department of Health on the draft CPG document.
The SAPAESA submission will ensure that the supporting evidence provided to the Professional Board by the African Federation of Emergency Medicine (AFEM) is thoroughly understood and that the best interests of the South African public and the ability of the EMS industry to deliver services are given the highest priority.