Emergency ambulance services carried out by the National Ambulance Service (NAS) for patients are free, Prof. Ahmed N. Zakaria, the Chief Executive Officer ( CEO) of NAS has said,
He explained that the cost of the emergency services were borne by the government irrespective of the status of the patient being offered the service.
Consequently, he had cautioned that under no circumstances should anyone ask patients to pay for a service or should patients or their relations pay for a service.

There have been media reports about some patients complaining that they were asked to pay for the ambulance service before being conveyed to the hospitals.
A case in point was in Tema where during the 2014 annual review meeting of the Tema Metropolitan Health Directorate, some health workers reportedly appealed to the NAS to issue receipts of payment to patients who paid for their services.
According to the health workers, some patients were asked to pay without being issued any receipts.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra, Prof. Zakaria said it was illegal for anyone to charge a patient.
The government, he explained, continued to bear the cost because emergency ambulance service was not covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme ( NHIS).
The CEO, however, said efforts were being made to get the emergency ambulance service to be captured under the NHIS to relieve government of the burden.

The NAS was designed to provide an immediate response to patients with life-threatening situations.
Emergency ambulances convey patients to the nearest hospital so that the patient can receive immediate medical attention.

Response time
Prof. Zakaria said there had been a systematic improvement in the response time of ambulances to emergency call points.

From 20 minutes in 2009, the response time was reduced to 17 minutes in 2013.
That, however, still fell below the internationally accepted response time of eight minutes.
He pointed out that the survival of a patient was highly contingent on the response time of the emergency team that was why the NAS took great interest in working to further reduce the time.
Reasons the CEO assigned for the failure to meet the internationally accepted response time included wrong directions to incident or accident scenes, inaccessible scenes, bad roads, traffic congestion and disrespect for ambulance sirens.

Against the backdrop, he called on Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to speed up their street and house naming projects to facilitate the direction to incident centres and eventually improve response time.


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