More Life Esidimeni patients still missing

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The Life Esdimeni Arbitration sitting heard on Thursday that a total of 59 patients patients who were transferred from Life Esidimeni are still missing while seven died and have not been identified nor their families traced.

Thus increasing the official toll given by health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba during the proceedings on Monday.

This was revealed by the Director of the National Department of health, Dr Precious Matsoso, who was called for community-based mental health care and for more investment in the primary health care instead of kicking mentally ill patients out to NGOs in the name of deinstitutionalisation.

De-institutionalisation was among reasons given by the Gauteng department of health for terminating the contract with Life Healthcare Esidimeni.

Matsoso made the call during the hearing sitting in Johannesburg after Justice Moseneke asked if she thought the country needed more psychiatric hospitals.

Her call comes following similar calls by the South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASSOP) which had earlier warned the Gauteng department of health against the rushed relocation of patients.

SASSOP is among numerous organisations to have registered their concerns regarding the department’s plans to terminate the Esidimeni contract.

Matsoso was emotional while giving testimony about how the department had tried to intervene by offering the services of Dr Freeman.

When asked why her department did not intervene, Matsoso said legislation review was needed as the department has no power to do so.

At least a 118 patients died as a result of the Gauteng department of Health’s mental health marathon Project.

leratod@thenewage.co.za

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