First mentally ill patients transferred out of unlicensed facilities

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The first group of 27 mentally ill patients formerly treated at Life Esidimeni before being moved to unlicensed facilities, arrived at the Clinix Selby Park Hospital in Johannesburg on Friday‚ under the supervision of Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, who said the facility would be able to take about 300 patients.

Motsoaledi is quoted in Business Day as saying: “They are going to be transported in groups and this is the first group to arrive. ” He “promised” to move the patients to “appropriate facilities”: “We are not going to move anybody until family members see where we’re moving them and until the family approves of the facilities.”

Motsoaledi said the government would be spending R46m on 300 patients a year.

The report says last month‚ Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba delivered a damning report about the deaths of more than 100 mental patients, of which 80% occurred at five of 27 non-governmental organisations (NGO) that received the patients when they were transferred from Life Esidimeni. None of the NGOs had legal licences and none were equipped with the requisite staff, training or infrastructure to care for the patients placed in their care.

Following Makgoba’s report‚ former Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu resigned. Part of Makgoba’s report included recommendations that the head of department and director be disciplined and possibly suspended.

The report says Motsoaledi has made assurances about the professional status of the new facility‚ which includes general wards with 16 beds, and specialised wards with five beds. “This is how it should’ve been done in the first place‚” he said.

New Gauteng health MEC Dr Gwen Ramakgopa said there was a dedicated team in place‚ accounting to the director-general of the department. “They have a programme. Before patients are moved‚ they’re examined‚ they have their medicine‚ and they get the necessary support‚” she said, adding that patients were properly briefed before they were moved to ensure they were “relaxed” and “not anxious”.

Business Day report

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