Tower Hospital psychiatrist opts not to appeal Health Ombudsman's decision

The general ward at Tower Psychiatric Hospital (Supplied, Sizwe Kupelo)
The general ward at Tower Psychiatric Hospital (Supplied, Sizwe Kupelo)

Psychiatrist Dr Kiran Sukeri will not appeal the Health Ombudsman's findings on the conditions of Tower Psychiatric Hospital in Fort Beaufort.

Sukeri's claims of patient mistreatment at the facility were found to be "unreliable" by Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba.

The ombudsman's scathing report also recommended the psychiatrist's immediate suspension until his fitness for office could be determined.

Sukeri defended his integrity and expressed his disappointment in the decision in a statement issued on Thursday.

READ: Eastern Cape's ticking psychiatric time bomb

"To be clear, my decision to shed light on what was happening at Tower Hospital was not motivated by self-interest but rather by my deep concern for the patients at Tower Hospital and for mental healthcare patients in general," he said.

"I am delighted to see that a number of positive changes have already taken place in consequence of the light focused on the state of mental healthcare in the Eastern Cape."

He added that he stood by his claims and encouraged the ongoing support from NGOs, professional bodies and the public in general.

Following Makgoba's decision, the South African Medical Association (SAMA) said the Health Ombudsman had done a disservice to the health profession by placing emphasis on Sukeri's "allegedly unethical conduct".

'Life Esidimeni hysteria'

The association believes that the actions of the ombudsman that "discredited and humiliated" Sukeri will discourage other health practitioners from coming forward.

"Healthcare practitioners have an ethical duty to act as advocates for their patients, which encompasses the duty to expose injustice and human rights violations committed against patients," SAMA explained.

Makgoba briefed members of the media on the "Report on an Investigation into Allegations of Patient Mismanagement and Patient Rights Violations at the Tower Psychiatric Hospital and Psychosocial Rehabilitation Centre" last month.

The report stated that Sukeri's claims had created "Life Esidimeni hysteria".

The widely publicised Life Esidimeni tragedy resulted in the deaths of 144 mentally ill patients after the Gauteng health department sent them to unaccredited NGOs in 2016 in an attempt to save money.

"There was a false Life Esidimeni copycat phenomenon because of Sukeri's false statements. This frenzy created a national mass hysteria. This simple complaint should not have turned into a national issue," Makgoba said.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Until the matric exams are over, my family is:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Self-isolating to ensure we don't miss any exams
13% - 141 votes
Following Covid-19 safety protocols, but still going out like normal
54% - 610 votes
Business as usual, we're not worried about the virus
33% - 377 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
16.22
(+0.68)
ZAR/GBP
21.02
(+0.61)
ZAR/EUR
18.90
(+1.04)
ZAR/AUD
11.40
(+0.89)
ZAR/JPY
0.16
(+0.87)
Gold
1877.12
(+0.49)
Silver
23.60
(+1.43)
Platinum
846.00
(-0.29)
Brent Crude
38.07
(-3.48)
Palladium
2216.00
(+0.70)
All Share
51684.70
(-0.41)
Top 40
47472.92
(-0.22)
Financial 15
9459.76
(-3.04)
Industrial 25
73405.64
(+1.00)
Resource 10
47245.91
(-1.21)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo