Healthcare services are improving in the Northern Emirates
RAS AL KHAIMAH // Despite residents’ concerns, the Government has been channelling money and offering solutions to problems in healthcare provision in the Northern Emirates.
In February, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, announced a Dh7 billion budget for projects in the north, including the building of health centres.
This week, an announcement to expand a project to bring home services to elderly people and those with mobility issues was made by the Ministry of Health and Prevention.
The mobile clinic services, which were previously limited to only nursing, will be provided in remote areas of Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah and will now include medical care, rehabilitation, natural treatments and prevention measures.
Three mobile clinics are already operational in Fujairah, while another will start providing services in RAK after Eid.
There has also been improvements in ambulance response times in the Northern Emirates.
In February, The National reported that times had been cut by more than half since services there began two years ago.
In that time, National Ambulance handled 89,000 calls to its dedicated northern hotline and sent its 50 ambulances out tens of thousands of times.
When the service began operations on February 24, 2014, the average response time in the Northern Emirates was 18 minutes and 12 seconds. That has been reduced to eight minutes and 56 seconds.
“Our performance is comparable with leading ambulance services in other countries,” said Robert Ball, chief executive of National Ambulance. “In the UK they reach 75 per cent of their calls within eight minutes, while we are reaching 90 per cent of our calls within eight minutes.”
National Ambulance also stages mass casualty drills to help emergency workers prepare for real large-scale accidents or events, in collaboration with civil defence and police.
“These mass casualty drills are done so we can respond to emergencies in the best way possible and we can get to scenes of emergencies really rapidly,” said Ahmed Al Hajeri, National Ambulance deputy chief executive.
“We do this across the Northern Emirates regularly. They are designed to simulate some mass incident.
“This can be anything from a three-car pile-up or a bus full of workers to a large-scale industrial accident.”
National Ambulance this month also launched an app for mobile phones, through which residents in the Northern Emirates can request an ambulance in emergencies.
The ambulance can be dispatched immediately to their destination through GPS tracking on the 998 App.
The app has a first-aid guide in Arabic and English that provides tips on how to respond to a variety of emergency health-related scenarios.
Mr Al Hajeri said: “By launching the 998 App, we are building on the success of the 998 number by providing an additional source of support to the community in times of most need.
“By utilising the technology, we can reduce the time it takes to respond to emergencies.”
However, when it came to attracting and retaining medical professionals, one Fujairah hospital admitted that it was difficult to compete with Dubai and Abu Dhabi in terms of salaries and lifestyle options.
Ahmad Al Hafiti, deputy chief executive of Al Sharq Hospital, said in February: “We face a problem with assigning doctors to work in Fujairah because most of them prefer to work in Dubai or Abu Dhabi for higher salaries, therefore you can’t find all the specialties in the area.”
Mr Al Hafiti spoke after Federal National Council members questioned the Minister of Health and Prevention, Abdul Rahman Al Owais, about shortfalls in the healthcare system in the Northern Emirates.
Updated: May 19, 2016 04:00 AM