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Gauteng health department accused of neglecting psychiatric patients

By Bafana Nzimande | 2017-08-17 16:14:16.0

Over 50 psychiatric patients that were moved from Life Esidimeni presently live in alarmingly terrible conditions that could lead to another tragedy.

This is claimed by Democratic Alliance Gauteng Shadow Health MEC Jack Bloom‚ who has accused the Gauteng health department of compromising the safety of mentally ill patients.

Bloom said Life Esidimeni patients that were allocated to Weskoppies Hospital were currently living in compromised infrastructure that posed a danger to their lives.

Malfunctioning sewer and water pipes‚ a shortage of beds and unfinished renovations were some of the issues of concern at Weskoppies Hospital.

“I was horrified to discover that in Weskoppies there are more than 50 Esidimeni patients that have been put in four wards which are in poor condition.

“These wards are crumbling. They are falling apart. Patients must be moved to better facilities as soon as possible‚” said Bloom on Thursday.

More than 100 patients died in 2016 after being moved from Life Esidimeni to non-government organisations that

were not qualified to provide healthcare.

 Then Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu resigned from office after the findings of the Health Ombudsman weighed heavily against senior health officials for bad planning.

The Esidemeni incident mobilised government to be more sensitive towards the needs of mental health patients‚ but it seems Gauteng authorities are letting their guard down again.

Bloom claims some hospitals don’t have dedicated psychiatric wards‚ the province has a shortage of 2‚700 beds and this has resulted in psychiatric patients being admitted to ordinary wards.

“The worst affected hospital is South Rand Hospital which had 2‚586 psychiatric patients last year‚ but 972 of them were placed in ordinary wards because the two psychiatric wards were full.

 “Such a situation poses serious danger for all. The Gauteng Health department must urgently fix this situation. They must approach the national treasury with proper plans and get competent contractors to avoid another Esidimeni incident‚” he said.

Gauteng Health department spokesman Prince Hamnca is yet to respond to a request for comment on this matter.