Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba has reportedly recommended that Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu be axed from her position after her department bungled the moving of mentally ill patients from Life Esidimeni to several incompetent NGOs.
The Sowetan reported on Tuesday that according to Malegapuru’s draft report, when Mahlangu revealed the deaths of 36 mentally ill patients in September, he found that 71 patients had actually died.
“The premier of the Gauteng province [David Makhura] must, in light of the findings in this report, consider the suitability of MEC Qedani Dorothy Mahlangu to continue in her current role as MEC for health.”
The provincial health department moved the patients after saying that it had spent R323 million on Life Esidimeni for the treatment of nearly 2 400 patients in 2014/2015 and that the government could no longer afford this.
The health Ombudsman found that the majority of the NGO’s where patients died had “neither the basic competence and experience, the leadership/managerial capacity nor ‘fitness for purpose’ and were often poorly resourced”.
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96.1% of the deaths occurred at the NGOs where the mentally ill patients were transferred from Life Esidimeni Hospital in Randfontein, on the West Rand, according to the report.
Mahlangu’s office could only account for 48 of the deaths.
“These differing numbers are symptomatic and pathognomonic of an institution with poor data integrity [lack of accuracy and consistency] and lack of reliable and quality information systems found during the investigation,” Makgoba’s report reads.
Makgoba has now accepted the number of the dead provided by Mahlangu.
The investigation ordered by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi also found that the decision to terminate Life Esidimeni’s contract and send patients to incompetent NGOs was “precipitously taken”.
“The decision was unwise and flawed, with inadequate planning and a chaotic and ‘rushed or hurried’ implementation process.”
Makhura’s spokesperson, Phumla Sekhonyane, told the tabloid newspaper the premier would consider Makgoba’s recommendations after receiving the report upon its release.