Life Esidimeni saga continues

Media reports speculate that more than 100 mentally ill patients are still with unregistered and ill-equipped NGOs contrary to Health Ombud's recommendations.

Gauteng department of health has acknowledged there are complications with implementing Health Ombudsman Prof Malegapuru Makgoba’s recommendations following the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

Business Day is reporting this morning that 100 psychiatric patients are still trapped in hospices unequipped to care for mentally ill patients after the Gauteng department of health failed to comply with Makgoba’s instructions.

Makgoba found that, among other shocking revelations, some NGOs were unregistered, lacked professional and technical expertise and their facilities were simply not fitted to care for mentally ill patients.

The spokesperson of the office of Health Ombudsman, Ricardo Makhanya, is reported as saying Makgoba has handed over the implementation of the recommendations to department of health.

Joe Maila, the health minister’s spokesperson, told the publication that national health department will discuss the report with their provincial counterparts in Gauteng and take appropriate steps once adequate feedback has been received on the implementation of the Ombud’s recommendations.

DA Gauteng spokesperson on health Jack Bloom told the Citizen that the request for extension “to end of April was fair because you can’t transfer until you are able to care for patients”. He said he was convinced there was a fair amount of patients still lodged with NGOs in undesirable conditions.

Bloom said the provincial department must provide a progress report to allay fears. “They must also prioritise the alternative dispute resolution mechanism where families opt for compensation.”

His view on families preferring this route as opposed to protracted court processes was echoed by Section 27, an NGO that has been working with bereaved relatives of deceased patients. Legal representative Sasha Stevenson said this mechanism “gives the parties a lot more freedom to determine procedure and scope of the process, unlike a court application”.

Spokesperson for Gauteng Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa, Khutso Rabothata, confirmed to The Citizen that the MEC and the department were happy clarifying all issues surrounding the progress of the implementation of recommendations. “We will do this a press conference tomorrow,” he said.

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Jack Bloom LIfe Esidimeni

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