'Life or death can be a matter of minutes'
The DA in the Eastern Cape has accused the provincial Health Department of laziness, poor financial management and of being unprofessional.
The department's underspending totalled R140million during the past financial year.
DA provincial leader Athol Trollip, who is set to contest the position to be vacated by Tony Leon later this year, said the department officials were incapable of managing the budget.
Earmarked for the upgrade of emergency services, the funds were instead used for district hospitals.
"This an indication of financial mismanagement and overall unprofessionalism," Trollip said.
"The province needs more ambulances and paramedics to enable the emergency services to better perform their functions."
He referred to the case where a woman who had fallen from a three-story building in Port Elizabeth waited for more than 10 hours before an ambulance arrived.
Another case involved Selborne College boys from East London who were injured in an accident on the Stutterheim Road a few years ago.
At least one of the boys died after massive haemorrhaging.
His death was attributed to the slow response of paramedics.
Trollip said that these were just some of the horror stories the Eastern Cape public has been forced to contend with.
"Our emergency services play a crucial role in the conveyance of people from the scene of an accident to hospitals for emergency treatment," he said.
"Our citizenry has the right to effective and professional medical care. Often the difference between life and death is a matter of mere minutes."