Johannesburg – Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Wednesday asked Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba to investigations allegations that 36 psychiatric patients in Gauteng died after they were transferred into the care of non-governmental organisations.
“This are the kind of cases that must be thoroughly investigated by the Office of the Health Ombudsman and provide us with a report and recommendations for us to act. The Office of Health Ombudsman is established to investigate this kind of cases,” Motsoaledi said in a statement.
The health department said that the decision to ask the Health Ombudsman to investigate the allegations that the patients died — after they were transferred from Life Health Care, Esidimeni — was taken after a meeting between Motsoaledi and Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu on Wednesday afternoon.
Mahlangu gave Motsoaledi an updated report on the transfer of psychiatric patients and further asked for intervention by the national department to deal with the matter effectively.
On Tuesday, Democratic Alliance health spokesperson Jack Bloom said a total of 36 psychiatric patients that were transferred from Life Healthcare Esidimeni earlier this year have died while they were in the care of the NGOs in which they were placed by the Gauteng health department.
He said this was disclosed by Mahlangu in an oral reply to his questions in the Legislature on Tuesday.
“The psychiatric patients were moved into 122 NGOs after the department cancelled its long-running contract with Life Healthcare which looked after about 2000 patients. 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,” Bloom said in a statement.
“Mahlangu said that the patients were transferred without clinical files that detailed their medical history, and doctors were sent to the NGOs to examine the medical needs of the patients. She said that investigation was continuing into the cause of the deaths.”
He challenged Mahlangu to apologise and said that there needs to be accountability for the deaths of so many patients.