Changes to Arrivals Process Implemented for Medical Referrals to South Africa Following Incident at Airport

On Sunday 23 October, concerns were raised regarding a reported incident at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg involving a number of individuals referred for off-Island medical treatment.

It was reported that one of the drivers due to meet and transport the referrals to their accommodation may have been under the influence of alcohol. The driver was from a service provider commissioned by Medical Services Organisation (MSO), St Helena Government’s (SHGs) South African medical partner firm, to provide transportation services to referrals on arrival in Johannesburg.

Fortunately, other travellers from St Helena were kindly able to liaise with MSO representatives by phone on behalf of the medical referrals. Alternative transport was then arranged.

Upon arrival at the MSO accommodation facility, pastoral support staff met with the individuals concerned to check on their wellbeing and to offer their apologies for the incident.

Authorities are obviously very concerned that something like this has happened, and recognise that something such as this would be distressing for those referred off-Island to receive medical treatment.

SHG has therefore taken swift action to ensure that this will not be repeated in the future.

Although no incident such as this had occurred before, following discussions with MSO, they have confirmed that they will nonetheless no longer use the services of the firm in question. Instead, representatives from the MSO pastoral support team will be present to meet referrals at the airport for all future arriving flights.

Commenting on the incident, Director of Health and Social Care, Tracy Poole-Nandy, said:

“On Monday we were made aware of the incident that took place over the weekend at the airport in Joburg. This was obviously a worrying incident and completely unacceptable. People referred off-Island for medical treatment are often already in a vulnerable position, and should be able to travel confident in the knowledge that they will be appropriately supported whilst they are away. Everyone should rightly be able to expect this.”

“We therefore acted quickly to establish what happened and have now put in place protocols to ensure that it won’t happen again. We are obviously very disappointed with what has occurred, but are assured that with the new protocols in place, referrals can travel with the confidence that they will be met by professionals and will be fully supported during the time that they are off-Island receiving treatment.”

“Fortunately everyone concerned is OK, and we would like to thank the other travellers for lending their support and making sure everyone got to their accommodation safely.”

Notes to Editor:

MSO is a healthcare provider based in Johannesburg with offices in five cities across South Africa. SHG has contracted with MSO to coordinate off-island medical care and to provide pastoral support services to those that are referred to South Africa for treatment. MSO are responsible for arranging medical treatments, transport to and from the airport, as well as for accommodation and pastoral support whilst referrals remain in South Africa.

25 October 2022

St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470