National Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba speaks during a media briefing to announce the final report on the Life Esidimeni psychiatric patients deaths on February 01, 2017 in Pretoria, South Africa.
JOHANNESBURG – The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng said on Wednesday it was pleased with the good treatment that former mental patients from Life Esidimeni were receiving at the Clinix Selby Park Hospital in inner-city Johannesburg.
This comes after DA spokesperson on health, Jack Bloom, visited the hospital on Tuesday in order to check on the condition of the patients.
In March, government moved 300 psychiatric patients from unlicensed NGOs to Clinix Selby Park Hospital as per the Health Ombudsman recommendations.
Bloom said Clinix Selby Park Hospital management informed him that they had 380 former Life Esidimeni patients and were expecting 15 more before the end of the month.
“They are fully staffed, with four psychiatrists and a team of medical doctors, social workers, dietitians and occupational therapists. The patients receive a balanced diet with three full meals a day and snacks available in between,” Bloom said.
“The hospital has large grounds suitable for recreation and gardening. We saw a gym facility and table tennis, soccer tables and a library are also available. The hospital has a renewable four-year contract with the Gauteng Health Department which pays R495 a patient per day.”
More than 100 mentally ill patients died from neglect and a lack of food, among other conditions, between March to December 2016 in Gauteng after the provincial health department had moved about 1,600 of them from Life Esidimeni Mental Health facilities to NGOs in a bid to cut costs.
The Gauteng Department of Health now pays about R15,000 per patient per month, compared to R10,000 per patient that was paid under the contract that was cancelled last year with Life Esidimeni.
Bloom said he was pleased that the patients were receiving good treatment and that about half of them could be rehabilitated to go home or to an assisted living facility.
“The Department has committed itself to moving all patients from unlicensed NGOs by the end of this month, as agreed after the Health Ombudsman extended the original 45-day deadline from 1 February when his report was released,” Bloom said.
“I am relieved that the patients will all be well looked after by the end of this month, but there is slow progress in bringing to account those responsible for the deaths of more than 100 patients.”
Last week, Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa said the department had successfully transferred 592 psychiatric patients to private mental healthcare facilities from unregistered NGOs over the past 79 days.
About 200 patients who are still with NGOs will be moved to the re-opened Esidimeni Waverley facility in Germiston.