Health Ombud’s recommendations being implemented after deaths of 94 mentally ill patients

06 February 2017 - 17:44 By Neo Goba

Both the national and Gauteng provincial health departments have heeded the call by the Health Ombudsman to implement several recommendations after 94 psychiatric patients died after being transferred to various non-governmental organisations across Gauteng.

Professor Malegapuru Makgoba.
Professor Malegapuru Makgoba.
Image: Gallo Images / Beeld / Felix Dlangamandla

This moves comes after the release of the much-anticipated report by Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba last Wednesday which contained explosive findings against former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu.

"The Gauteng Department of Health will work together with the National Department to overhaul mental healthcare in the province. The World Health Organisation has been contacted to provide expert assistance in the re-establishment of quality mental health care in Gauteng‚" they said in a joint statement.

"The government has established a team comprising senior officials‚ specialists in the area of mental health‚ doctors‚ psychiatrists‚ psychologists‚ nurses‚ occupational therapists‚ civil society organisations and family representatives to respond immediately to the recommendations of the report issued by the Health Ombudsman‚ Professor Malegapuru Makgoba on 1 February 2017‚" they said.

  • READ MORE: Patients condemned to a slow, agonising death as cover-up's lies multipliedFifty-year-old Virginia Machpela died 47 days after the Gauteng health department shunted responsibility for her care onto an NGO in Atteridgeville last year.

Makgoba was tasked with investigating the deaths of 36 psychiatric and disabled patients in the care of NGOs contracted by the Gauteng health department. Families of patients had complained of poor care and suspicious deaths at some facilities. National Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi ordered the inquiry.

The patients were placed in NGOs after the Gauteng health department ended its contract with Life Esidimeni Hospital‚ which was looking after about 1‚900 seriously ill mental patients.

Mahlangu has since resigned and has been replaced by Dr Gwen Ramokgopa‚ a former Deputy Minister of Health.

The process of instituting disciplinary proceedings against officials in the Gauteng Department of Health for the patients’ deaths was launched on Friday.

A forensic investigation by the South African Police Service is also under way.