Gauteng psych care shake-up reveals more problems

2017-03-02 21:15
Jack Bloom (Picture: DA)

Jack Bloom (Picture: DA)

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Johannesburg - The shake-up of Gauteng's mental health facilities after the tragic deaths of dozens of patients who were transferred between facilities has brought to the fore other areas of neglect.

This includes the lack of adequate security for acute mental health patients at the Bheki Mlangeni Hospital in Soweto, Democratic Alliance MPL Jack Bloom said on Thursday.

An oral reply by new MEC Gwen Ramokgopa to his questions in the Gauteng legislature revealed that there had been three serious incidents at the hospital since July 2016.

On February 1, Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba released his report on an investigation into claims of neglect, after patients receiving mental healthcare were moved from Life Esidimeni facilities to 27 NGOs so that the government could save money.

He found that at least 94 patients had died at the mostly unregistered NGOS and, by the time he briefed Parliament, halfway through February, he estimated that the number had probably risen to at least 100.

A massive overhaul of the department's mental healthcare system has since been instituted, but Bloom said that there were still areas of neglect that had to be dealt with.

In her reply, Ramokgopa told him:

  • On July 22, 2016, a 34-year-old patient jumped out of a bathroom window and died;
  • On December 24, 2016, a 13-year-old patient managed to run into the antenatal ward on the first floor and jumped off the balcony injuring his wrist;
  • On January 18, 2017, a 23-year-old patient injured his head after getting his restraints off and running toward a second floor balcony.

Extra security and staff

Bloom said that a security guard was also recently injured in the eye by an unrestrained psychiatric patient.

He believed the patients at the Bheki Mlangeni Hospital should be kept separately as they are in the South Rand District Hospital.

Asked for comment, department spokesperson Steve Mabona said Ramokgopa had announced changes to deal with these problems.

These included extra security bars and 24-hour security staff at the entrances to wards which admit acute mental health patients.

The department also allocated two sessional doctors for psychiatric services at the hospital and 12 beds were added to accommodate psychiatric patients.

Trained psychiatric nurses were being seconded to the ward and casualty staff would be trained to take care of patients with acute psychosis.

Former health MEC Qedani Mahlangu resigned before the report into the patients' deaths was released.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  healthcare

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