Social Development bid to appeal frail care ruling

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The Department of Social Development has asked the Port Elizabeth High Court for permission to appeal against a ruling that it has to carry on paying Life Healthcare R18,000 a patient every month until it finds an alternative to care for the 240 frail patients in the state-funded centres, reports The Herald.

The department tried to close the two Life Esidimeni centres in Port Elizabeth – Lorraine Frail Care and Algoa Frail Care – in December. The initial plan was to transfer patients to the care of non-profit organisations providing frail care. However, the NPOs which were approached rejected the department’s offer to pay between R4,000 and R9,000 a patient a month, saying it was impossible to provide care at that price.

The report says families of the patients at the two centres then obtained a court order in December ruling that no patients were allowed to be moved without the permission of an advocate appointed to represent the interests of the patients.

The court also asked that a judge be presented with a plan before patients were moved. Life Healthcare accordingly agreed to carry on caring for patients at the two frail care centres and the department agreed to have this agreement extended to May next year.

The report says the department and Life Healthcare could not agree on an acceptable price to pay for the extended service.

Life Healthcare eventually took legal action against the department to ensure payment in May this year. Judge Elna Revelas ruled that the department carry on paying the original tender price a patient, R18,000, until the matter is solved. Legal representatives for the department argued that it could not afford that.

According to the report, department spokesperson Mzukisi Solani said they were pursuing a new plan for state-funded frail care that included negotiations with Life Healthcare to find a solution.

Revelas indicated that she would give judgment in the application for leave to appeal on Thursday.

The Herald report

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