Mental health patients transferred from NGOs

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Pretoria - About 63 mental health patients have to date been transferred from various organisations in line with Health Ombudsman recommendations, says Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa.

This follows the recent report released by the Health Ombudsman, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, after his investigation into circumstances surrounding the deaths of mentally ill patients in Gauteng.

The report revealed that 94 mentally ill patients died after being removed from the Life Healthcare Esidimeni to 27 non-governmental organisations.

Part of the recommendations included that the provincial government relocate the mental health patients currently being cared for at various NGOs.

The provincial Health Department on Wednesday said it has appointed Clinix Selby Park Hospital and Life Esidimeni to provide inpatient services to Mental Health Care Users (MHCU) relocated from Non-Governmental Organisations. 

“Both facilities have been licensed to provide a private health establishment in line with Mental Health Care Act. On Tuesday, the department transferred 34 patients (28 from Rebafenyi house 3 and six from Kopanong Hospital),” said the department.

The MEC said the patient’s families were contacted in preparation for the transfer but only 33 were successfully reached.

“The social workers report indicated that there was a positive response by families to the relocation due to close proximity of the facilities to their homes,” she said.

A social worker and an administrative assistant were assigned by the project team to work with the general hospital’s medical teams where Life Esidimeni patients are admitted and awaiting discharge. 

Officials suspended

“The officials that have been suspended are the Head of Department and the Director for Mental Health. All the other five officials, including the Chief Director of Tshwane District are being subjected to disciplinary processes. The latter is on precautionary transfer to report to the Chief Director of Ekurhuleni District,” said MEC Ramokgopa.

She said the Director for Primary Healthcare, Meisie Lerutla, is now responsible for District Services in Tshwane. The Chairperson of the Mental Health Review Board has also been suspended and an acting chairperson appointed, Trevor Bogoshi.

“The process of accounting for every patient transferred from Life Esidimeni to the NGO’s is also underway and a full update will be provided. 

“We should also add that, 20 Medical Doctors have been recruited in partnership with Foundation For Professional Development (FPD) and additional nurses are being recruited," said the MEC. -

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