Health Ministry Asks Police to Regulate Private Ambulances

The Ministry of Health has called upon police and military police to pre­vent private ambulances from picking up patients from emergency scenes and to crack down on illegal am­bulances operating in Phnom Penh.

In a statement issued Monday, the Ministry of Health asked au­thorities to “take legal action to ar­rest and stop the ambulances from any private clinics, which are illegal.”

According to Heng Taikry, se­cretary of state at the Ministry of Health, a directive to restrict private ambulances was introduced in 2008 be­cause ambulances were deemed to be fighting over injured victims upon arriving at the scene of an accident.

“Some of the staff at private clinics don’t act ethically toward victims,” he said. “They are only concerned with business, and they ne­gotiate prices with victims when they’re injured.”

He added that four clinics have been shut down since 2008 and that Phnom Penh has about 30 gov­ern­ment ambulances that can re­trieve vic­­­tims from the site of an emergency.

The 2008 directive says that private clinics could be fined be­tween $1,500 and $2,500 or be shut down if they sent ambulances to the scene of an accident.

Private ambulances are only al­lowed to transport injured people between hospitals and pick up victims when they are called directly from the location of the emergency.

In its statement, the Health Min­istry also expressed concern that ambulances with sirens or a Red Cross symbol that are unaffiliated with a public or private hospital are being used for activities such as transporting illegal timber.

Kheng Tito, spokesman for the National Military Police, said police may encounter difficulties im­plementing the crackdown.

“We don’t know if the ambulance is being used for a victim or not, so it’s difficult to find violators,” he said.

Dr Phann Ponna, manager of Sokheap Thmey Clinic in Phnom Penh, said he supports the Min­istry of Health’s decision to regulate private ambulances.

“I have been cooperating with the Ministry of Health since my clinic got an ambulance in 2006, be­cause I know that some clinics fight over victims,” he said.


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