Officials have been urged to continue sending medical patients for treatment in Cape Town when the island’s ship is replaced with flights into Johannesburg.
Legislative councillors heard that the “family” of people who support Saint patients in South Africa must not be cast aside.
“The electorate is really concerned about the likelihood of medical referral services being transferred to Johannesburg,” said the Hon Lawson Henry.
“All St Helena’s links have been with Europe and with Cape Town.
“The St Helena ‘family’ reside in Cape Town and they are the after-carers for the people who have to go off-island for medical treatment.
“Many of the St Helenians and those closely linked to the island who live in Cape Town have invested in enlarging their homes to accommodate our medical referrals.
“Are we now to cast all this aside and move it all to Johannesburg, where we have no established links for that Saint community who have done so much over the years to look after our people?
“I urge officials… to retain our links for medial services in Cape Town.”
The Hon Dr Corinda Essex said: “We are aware that hospital refurbishments and patient rehabilitation should reduce the number of patients requiring diagnosis and treatment overseas.
“However, it is likely to be the most critical and complex cases that will still require evacuation, and these individuals may well not be in a condition to cope without a strong support network.
“Such a network is long established in Cape Town, but none exists in Johannesburg.
“I am aware that a St Helena representative will be based in Johannesburg, but the support services that will be required extend far behind the scope of a single individual.”
- Mr Henry hinted at dissatisfaction that councillors had no say in choosing an airline for St Helena. He said: “I contend that the St Helena Government did not make the decision to have the hub for our air services to Johannesburg: officials did.”