789 psychiatric patients are still in 22 NGOs‚ says MEC Ramokgopa
Shenaaz Jamal | 2017-02-22 11:52:05.0
Gwen Ramokgopa. File photo.
Image by: Gallo Images/Foto24/Lisa Hnatowicz)
New Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa has vowed to turn the department around and rebuild its reputation – roping in mental health experts to help achieve this goal.
Speaking at a press briefing at the Department of health on Wednesday‚ Ramokgopa said the department was at an advanced stage of removing mental health patients from NGOs and into government care facilities.
She said she would prioritize the care for the mental health patients and has established a dedicated help line for families to contact regarding their loved ones.
To the department’s knowledge‚ she said‚ 1‚398 were discharged from the Life Esidimeni facilities of which 789 patients are still in 22 NGOs.
“A dedicated team of managers and experts have been established to ensure that the relocation of patients from the NGOs to appropriate facilities. The transfer of patients will not be rushed and will be carried out properly‚” said Ramokgopa.
The MEC‚ a medical doctor by profession‚ was appointed after former health MEC Qedani Mahlangu resigned following the health ombudsman report on the death of an estimated 100 psychiatric patients under the care of government.
Ramokgopa said the team of experts that will assist in the move of patients will include mental health specialists.
“If these specialists were involved in the process‚ we could have avoided this tragedy.
“We need to take a step back and reflect on how the system could have failed to safeguard the vulnerable‚” she said.
Ramokgopa said the department is in the process of obtaining data from Life Esedimeni that would show how many patients were discharged under the project and the department is collating a list of unclaimed bodies and those buried as unknown.
– TMG Digital/TimesLIVE