Sometime in September 2016, South African mourned the death of 36 psychiatric patients. The psychiatric patient deaths which happened in Gauteng was blamed on the transfer of the patients from private care facilities.
It happened that the Gauteng Health Department terminated its contract with Life Healthcare Esidimeni, which cared for about two thousand patients, and, transferred majority of the patients to community based NGOs.
Then, the relatives of the patients opposed the relocation but, Gauteng Health Department agitated that the relocation is in the interest of the psychiatric patients.
The plan was to move the patients from old-fashioned asylum-like institutions into community-based care, argued Gauteng Health Department.
Later, we were told that 36 of the psychiatric patients died in the care of the NGOs.
That, was according to the Gauteng Health MEC – Qedani Mahlangu – who was giving an oral response to questions from Jack Bloom‚ DA’s (Democratic Alliance) Shadow Health MEC in Gauteng.
“I am horrified that so many patients have died from undisclosed causes after being transferred to NGOs‚ many of which relatives have said are unsuitable,” lamented Bloom.
With that, the Shadow Health MEC charged for accountability over the deaths of the patients. “The department should ascertain the cause of death in all cases and take stern action where there is proven negligence,” Bloom stated then.
The Gauteng Health Department as expected, promised South Africans that it’s investigating the death of the said 36 psychiatric patients.
Now, it has been exposed that we were all lied to. As revealed, not fewer than 80 psychiatric patients may have died after the contract with Life Healthcare Esidimeni was terminated.
Reacting to the development, Bloom said:
“…As many as 80 psychiatric patients may have died in Gauteng last year after the Gauteng Health Department cancelled its contract with Life Healthcare Esidimeni which was caring for about 2000 patients.
It is unfortunate that the Health Ombudsman’s report has been delayed because Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu asked for further time to respond to it.”
Bloom divulged that leaks from the investigations conducted, upheld that Mahlangu and two senior department officials take responsibility for the deaths.
“I hope that Mahlangu meets her deadline to respond to the report by Tuesday this week and that the full report is made public shortly thereafter.
“Her day of reckoning is coming closer as she should have resigned or been fired after the first disclosure of the deaths in September last year after I asked a question about this in the Gauteng Legislature.
“There needs to be accountability and relatives of the deceased patients deserve to know the truth as soon as possible,” added the Shadow Health MEC