Those who need to engage private ambulances will now be able to check a list of which services have met new standards that seek to improve patient safety and quality.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Thursday said the list of private ambulance operators accredited under a voluntary accreditation scheme will be available on its website at https://bit.ly/36ZJEi9
The list includes operators that provide services to the public, as well as operators serving the in-house needs of organisations such as hospitals and corporations. Contact details are provided in the list for operators serving the public.
The ministry will also work with accredited private ambulance operators to develop and publish the range of fees charged so that consumers can make better-informed choices.
The voluntary accreditation scheme for private ambulance operators was introduced by MOH in January 2018 to encourage these operators to make changes early to meet tightened rules for them.
So far, more than half of all private ambulances have met the new standards. These ambulances come from 30 operators.
The rules come under the new Healthcare Services Act, tabled in Parliament this month. The Act is set to come into effect between early next year and end-2022. Operators will be licensed under the Act in its second phase of implementation in the second half of next year.
Under the new rules, private ambulance operators will have to, among other things, register their vehicles as either private emergency ambulances or medical transport services. The latter will not be allowed to use sirens or emergency lights, and are for non-emergency cases.
According to operators, many of the new rules codify standard practices in the industry.
The ministry said that as part of the accreditation scheme's application process, it conducts preliminary assessments on personnel and vehicles, and provides on-site assistance to help operators meet the standards for accreditation.
MOH released a set of standards in 2017 to give private ambulance operators clarity on the requirements to provide an appropriate level of safe clinical care to patients using the services. Operators assessed to have met these 2017 standards can be accredited under the voluntary accreditation scheme.