South Africa’s largest paramedic school, De Vries Ambulance Academy, has lost the latest round of its legal battle against the Professional Board for Emergency Care after its accreditation was withdrawn earlier this year.
In March, De Vries obtained an urgent interim interdict to stay the withdrawal of its accreditation to train basic ambulance assistants, pending the outcome of a review application to set aside the decision.
When the board and the Health Professions’ Council applied for leave to appeal, thus suspending the operation of the interdict, De Vries obtained a second court order to enforce the original interdict despite the appeal.
The board and council took the enforcement order on appeal before a full bench of the High Court in Pretoria, arguing it would inhibit their regulatory powers to set training standards for the industry.
The full bench upheld the appeal and set aside the enforcement order.
De Vries, which has been an accredited training institute for 22 years, maintained the withdrawal of its accreditation would lead to the permanent closure of its business, but Judge Tati Makgoka found this contention lacked merit.
The battle had its genesis in a 2011 decision by the board to increase the qualification level of trainers and put training providers on terms to ensure staff met the minimum qualification requirements.
The other 36 training institutes complied, but De Vries maintained the new criteria was only applicable to new accreditation applicants, resulting in the withdrawal of its accreditation.
Makgoka said the fact that the new staffing requirements could cause De Vries hardship did not translate into irreparable harm.
De Vries could elect to take steps to comply by enrolling its current teaching staff for a nine-month course and employing temporary teachers who met the requirements.