Mentally ill patients to be out in the cold
D-day is looming for 1900 mentally ill state patients being treated at Life Healthcare facilities.
At the end of March an agreement between the Gauteng department of health and the private hospital group expires end and the patients will have to leave the group's hospitals.
But their families are not equipped to care for them and the provincial department does not have enough facilities to accommodate themor the money to pay for their care in the private sector. Private-sector care costs the department R10000 a month per patient.
Section 27 and the SA Depression and Anxiety Group have collected more than 20 affidavits from patients' families. The families say they cannot look after their relatives. Many of the patients are not responding to treatment, are severely psychotic or have been evicted from other institutions. Some have no known relatives.
Depression and Anxiety Group spokesman Janine Shamos said the NGO facilities to which the department of health intended sending the patients had been vetted.
Many facilities had said that they could not accept the patients because they were too ill or too old, and would "destabilise" resident patients.
D A spokesman Jack Bloom said: "The department claimed it would be able to look after all the patients by the end of March by placing them in government buildings and with NGOs. But no progress has been made in renovating the facilities."