#LifeEsidimeni: Department to pay millions for psychiatric patients

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Families of psychiatric patients who died after being transferred to NGOs from Life Esidimeni are holding a healing session on Saturday.

Families of psychiatric patients who died after being transferred to NGOs from Life Esidimeni are holding a healing session on Saturday.

Photo_Web_Esidimeni_180217

Families of psychiatric patients who died after being transferred to NGOs from Life Esidimeni are holding a healing session on Saturday.

Families of psychiatric patients who died after being transferred to NGOs from Life Esidimeni are holding a healing session on Saturday.

JOHANNESBURG – Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi revealed on Friday that the government will be forking out more than R40-million a year for 300 psychiatric patients in Gauteng as the department begins to implement the health ombudsman's recommendations.

“The government is going to pay R46 million for 300 patients per annum,” Motsoaledi said.

WATCH: Media briefing on transfer of Life Esidimeni patients

Motsoaledi said this during the transfer of the first 27 patients to Clinix Selby Park Hospital, near central Johannesburg. They are some of 300 psychiatric patients moved from unlicensed non-governmental organisation (NGOs).

Clinix Health Group owns and manages seven private hospitals across the country that specialise in maternity and antenatal clinics, neonatal intensive care, radiology and pathology services, with theatres, ICU facilities, as well as onsite pharmacies.

READ: NGO reported for threatening relative of former Esidimeni patient

The Selby hospital will have a contingent of psychiatrists, two full-time doctors, a social worker, and add more staff compliment as more psychiatric patients are brought in to fill its 300 beds.

Addressing the media at the hospital, Motsoaledi said the provincial department was now doing the transfers by the book as stipulated by health regulations and recommended by the Health Ombudsman.

More than 100 mentally ill patients have died from neglect and a lack of food, among other conditions, died between March to December 2016 in Gauteng since the provincial health department moved them Life Esidimeni Mental Health facility to NGOs in a bid to cut costs.

NGOs went to Life Esidimeni to pick up more than 1,000 patients on their own and brought them to their homes without files, without diagnosis and all the necessary ingredients that would bring quality healthcare.

In a report after investigation, Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba said the NGOs did not have valid licences and that the transfers were handled in dubious and unlawful manner.

MEC for health at the time, Qedani Mahlangu, resigned before the damning health ombudsman report was released and the head of the Gauteng health department, Barney Selebano, was put on suspension.

Newly-appointed health MEC, Gwen Ramakgopa, said charges against Selebano were being drawn and that the investigation was near completion.

“The HOD was suspended according to the Labour Relations Act. He is on precautionary suspension as per the recommendations of the Ombudsman and the charges are being finalised,” Ramokgopa said.

Ramokgopa said the department was continuing to negotiate with many private healthcare groups in a bid to move around 700 patients from other NGOs.