Mental health body concerned over deaths of 36 psychiatric patients

2016-09-15 21:49

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Johannesburg - The South African Federation for Mental Health (SAFMH) expressed its concern over a report that 36 psychiatric patients transferred from the Life Healthcare Esidimeni facilities earlier this year have died while in the care of NGOs.

The information was released by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in an oral reply to questions by DA shadow health MEC Jack Bloom.

The psychiatric patients were relocated to 122 NGOs after the department cancelled its contract with Life Healthcare which looked after almost 2 000 patients.

"At the time of the cancellation of the contract, the Gauteng Department of Health claimed that terminating the contract was part of the process of de-institutionalisation, and that the money saved from the contract would go towards upscaling other mental health services, all of which it claimed was in line with the National Mental Health Policy Framework," SAFMH spokesperson Marthé Viljoen said in a statement.

The SAFMH said the Gauteng Department of Health has disregarded its commitment to the National Mental Health Policy Framework as the primary goal of the policy is to ensure that mental healthcare users are able to live with dignity and receive quality healthcare services. 

"SAFMH believes that the Department should immediately employ measures to prevent further deaths, at any costs, as well as immediately starting a process of intensive upscaling for NGOs, as it is clear that not providing NGOs with enough support and resources have led to an unacceptable amount of casualties."

A call was also made for an investigation into the exact cause of death of all 36 patients.

Read more on:    safmh  |  johannesburg  |  health

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