Most of Life Esidemeni patients moved - health department

2017-05-07 19:04
Gwen Ramokgopa. (Christopher Moagi, Netwerk24)

Gwen Ramokgopa. (Christopher Moagi, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa says 91% of the remaining Life Esidemeni patients have been transferred to appropriate and suitable facilities and about 20 NGOs where they were housed before, have been closed down.

Ramokgopa on Sunday told journalists in Johannesburg that they had endeavoured to be transparent, professional and careful throughout the process to ensure the safety of these patients, Netwerk24 reported.

She said her department had in the 96 days since Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba's report on the Life Esidemeni debacle, worked tirelessly to build the capacity of the province's mental health directorate and to refocus it.

The licensing requirements for NGOs are being reviewed as well.

The first patients were moved on March 3 2017, said Ramokgopa. According to her all the patients have been transferred "with the exception where there were disputes or misunderstandings".

Acute care

There were cases where the patients' families refused that they be moved and also because some of the NGOs had taken the matter to court, she said.

"We will continue monitoring the remaining patients and have taken steps to ensure that they be evaluated on a regular basis.

"We, as the department, take full responsibility for their well-being, but we are not satisfied with the state of affairs and insist that they be moved as well," Ramokgopa said.

Ramokgopa said 390 patients had been moved to the Clinix Selby Park Hospital, 232 to the Baneng care centre and 128 to the Waverley care centre. Of these patients, 63 hadn't previously been at Life Esidemeni, but had been identified by the task team.

In total, there are 67 patients, who couldn't be moved, left in the care of nine NGOs.

Psychiatric patients admitted to general and psychiatric hospitals will stay there until their condition has improved to such an extent that they can also be moved. This includes 378 long term patients and 50 who are in acute care.

Another five patients have died from natural causes since the ombudsman's report.

"We are of the opinion that even one death is unacceptable and asked for full post mortems in all five cases. We are waiting for the results."

Suspensions

More than 100 patients died in 2016 after the department moved patients from Life Esidemeni to NGOs to save money.

Ramokgopa's predecessor, Qedani Mahlangu, quit in the aftermath of the debacle. The head of the department, Dr Barney Selebano, as well as Dr Makgabo Manamela, the department's provincial director of mental health, were suspended by Gauteng Premier David Makhura and now face disciplinary action.

Ramokgopa confirmed that they were still being paid in full, but said it was important to follow due process.

Meanwhile, the department has moved other staff mentioned in Makgoba's report to other sections where they do not work with psychiatric patients.

The provincial Health Department has also appointed a private lawyer and advocate to investigate their behaviour.

According to Ramokgopa, her department is working closely with Makhura, the Gauteng housing department and the police to confirm the exact number of patients who died.

Read more on:    life esidimeni  |  johannesburg  |  healthcare

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