Western Cape Emergency Centres treats more than 120k patients during Festive Season

More than 120 000 patients were seen in the Western Cape’s 62 emergency centres (ECs), during the Festive Season.


This number says the Western Cape’s Health & Wellness Department, was anticipated, as it usually sees an increase in trauma and emergency incidents linked to the Festive Season.

‘’This means resources must be strategically allocated to ensure that our emergency centers within our facilities and our Emergency Medical Services (EMS) are adequately prepared to handle the heightened demand preceding the province's tourism season,’’ said Dr. Nomafrench Mbombo, Western Cape’s Health & Wellness MEC.

Between 15 December and 15 January, 120 158 patients were presented in the province’s ECs, of which 25.5 % of these cases were as a result of trauma (30 591).

The top five police precincts where trauma cases occurred were Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Kraaifontein, Delft and Gugulethu.

The Department said it was mostly busy over the New Year’s weekend, specifically 28 December – 1 January.

Of the total trauma cases, 43% were due to assault (13 178 cases) where 521 of these involved firearms; 7.4% or 2 285 trauma cases were due to road traffic incidents, in which 45% were pedestrian vehicle accidents; Self-harm cases were registered at 722 (2.3% of trauma); 204 sexual offences cases attended to by medical professionals.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel attended to 67 143 incidents across the province. Most of the calls were logged within the City of Cape Town (31 374). This is an 8.24% increase (62 030) from the previous festive season.


The top incidents were for Pain (non-cardiac), Respiratory Complaint, and Assault – Weapon (other).


Mbombo released these figures during a mountain rescue exercise based at Tafelberg Road, Table Mountain. She was joined by Air Mercy Service (AMS), Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and other stakeholders.

‘’This training exercise was an opportunity for our health professionals to remain current in their skills and to ensure the quality of our service delivery,’’said Dr. Nomafrench Mbombo, Western Cape Health & Wellness MEC.

“Our mountain rescue exercise proved that collective efforts through partnerships can result in effective service delivery for our residents. While many of us were enjoying the end of a busy year, our healthcare professionals remained hard at work to ensure that our health system was able to manage the demand placed on it. These professionals work hard and contribute greatly to making our services more accessible to our communities. I look forward to the future work that arises from this partnership.”

The CEO of AMS, Mr. Farhaad Haffejee, highlighted the impact of the festive season on their operations,

 “The Red Cross Air Mercy Service (AMS) serves as the proud aeromedical service provider and partner to the Department of Health and Wellness. AMS is part of an integrated response system of the Department and have conducted a total of 87 missions for the festive season. There were 52 emergencies where the two helicopters were used for rescues, accident scenes, and critical interhospital transfers.

Haffejee said most of those who needed help were hikers.

‘’The fixed-wing air ambulance conducted 35 missions, transporting 71 patients from rural areas. We would like to give special thanks to the Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness Emergency Medical Services, Wilderness Search and Rescue, and Life-Saving South Africa for contributing crews to the helicopter rescue teams. We are proud to deliver a world-class service to all the citizens of the Western Cape and to all who visit this beautiful province.”


Speaking to the impact of the festive season on the province’s ECs, Provincial Coordinator: Specialist Emergency Services, Prof Heike Geduld, pleaded with the public to help prevent healthcare facilities from being overcrowded.

“While the prevalence of trauma in our ECs remained comparable to the previous season, treating more than 120 000 patients within a month is still a mammoth task to undertake and speaks to the heightened demand on the healthcare system. During this period, we saw how interpersonal violence continued to be a persistent factor behind our trauma cases. This speaks to the need for us as a society to address the factors that lead to these incidents to prevent our health system’s resources from being further stretched.”


Done By: Mitchum George


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