PRETORIA - The Health Ombudsman has called on the health minister to place the Eastern Cape's mental health services under national-government administration.
Professor Malegapuru Makgoba released a report into the Eastern Cape's Tower Psychiatric Hospital.
This follows allegations of mistreatment of patients and human rights violations at the 400-bed facility.
The probe didn’t find evidence of human rights violations, but did unearth serious challenges in the hospital and province's mental-healthcare services.
Dr Kiran Sukeri, who was head of Tower Hospital's psychiatric unit, rang the alarm on alleged patient violations in these corridors.
Sikeri, who has since moved to private practice, claimed patients were often given sub-standard food and were subjected to inhumane confinement in seclusion rooms for hours on end.
He also said negligence had led to patient deaths, and the hospital had downplayed the number of deaths of mentally ill patients.
“Mr Sukeri released unverified false and damaging death statistical information to the public and in so doing committed scientific fraud,” said Makgoba.
“Dr Sukeri violates the confidentiality of patients and by so doing took their dignity away.”
Makgoba's 68-page report states seclusion rooms were substandard and are currently being renovated.
Despite the fabrications in Sukeri's claims, Makgoba says serious challenges do exist and he’s calling on the national government to step in.
“The health minister must evoke the appropriate and relevant section of the Constitution to appoint an administrator with respect to mental-healthcare services,” he said.
“The national minister of health relooks into taking back the powers that are important in this emerging epidemic throughout the world.”
The report states 68 patients died over an eight-year period but this was not due to negligence, as alleged.
It also found Sukeri had violated patients' rights by discharging patients without following the correct procedures.
Some had to be tracked down and readmitted as they battled to cope outside the hospital.
Makgoba has recommended that Dr Sukeri be reported to the Health professionals watchdog and be immediately suspended from any practice for his attempt at creating what he calls a Life Esidimeni copycat phenomenon based on lies.