More evidence Makhura ignored warnings on Esidimeni patients‚ DA claims
TMG Digital | 2017-02-12 11:33:36.0
Gauteng Premier David Makhura. File photo.
Image by: Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu
More evidence is emerging that Gauteng Premier David Makhura ignored explicit warnings that the transfer of mental health patients from Life Healthcare Esidimeni would be a disaster that could result in deaths‚ Democratic Alliance health spokesman for the province Jack Bloom said on Sunday.
Bloom said that‚ as reported in the Sunday Times‚ Wits University occupational therapy students wrote to top state officials‚ including Makhura‚ on January 18 last year warning about moving the patients from Esidimeni’s Waverley Care Centre in Germiston.
“I have a copy of this letter which details the concerns of students who spent many hours of study at the Waverley Care Centre‚” Bloom said.
He said the letter included the following key points:
– Waverley is an essential mental health care facility for individuals who would be unable to function on their own in society and in many cases have been abandoned by their families. – There are clients at Waverley at a very low level of functioning at which only immense external structure (i.e. constant assistance and support from caregivers) and routine managed by caregivers would allow them function. – Waverley has a high number of patients who have treatment resistant forms of their conditions‚ mostly schizophrenia. Because of the experienced and qualified staff at Waverley Care Centre and similar placements‚ patients have easy access to the level of care they need‚ which is likely not to be the case in the community‚ or even at community based non-governmental organisations and non-profit organisations.
The students concluded: “We are concerned that these patients‚ who are already vulnerable‚ will be at risk of abuse and injury should they be discharged from Waverley.”
Bloom stated that he had visited the Waverley Centre in January last year when it had 640 patients‚ and was told that only 98 were well enough to be discharged.
“Premier Makhura needs to explain why he ignored the heart-felt appeals from the students not to close the Waverley Centre‚” Bloom said.
He added that the DA would continue to probe the premier’s failure to halt the unfolding tragedy that led to 94 deaths after psychiatric patients were transferred from Esidimeni facilities to NGOs
“I have requested that he appears before the Gauteng’s Legislature Oversight Committee on the Premier’s Office and Legislature (OCPOL) in this matter‚” he said.
“We need to know‚ what did he know‚ and when did he know it?”