Despite damning report government not moving remaining patients
February 7, 2017
Johannesburg, Gauteng: Care centres involved in the Life Esidimeni tragedy say they are still not sure when the remaining patients who were transferred to them will be moved. The Gauteng Provincial Government says they have begun the process of moving the patients, but NGOs say they remain in the dark.
94 patients died at the hands of discredited NGOs after they were transferred from Life Esidimeni, following their contract being canceled, by the Gauteng Department of Health.
About 1300 patients were transferred to NGOs around Gauteng by the Department. These NGOs include, Anchor House, Bophelong Special Children Care Centre, Precious Angels, Tshepong Care Centre, Odirile Care Centre, Rebafenyi, Sebo Sa Rena, El Shaddai, Buhle be Nkosi, Shammah House, Tumelo, Arayeng, Takalani, Thuli, Dolphin Acres, Masego Home, Aneni Home, Hephzibah, Kanana Care Centre, Lapeng, Solution Care Centre, Thekganang, San Michel, Bokang and Siyabathunda.
Health Ombudsman, Malegapuru Makgoba, investigated the deaths. His report into the matter found that some of the NGOs were improperly licensed, and others were not licensed at all. A severe lack of medical staff and resources could be attributed to the deaths.
The report states “95.1% Deaths occurred at the NGOs from those MCHUs directly transferred from Life Healthcare Esidimeni (LE).”
Susan van Niekerk, who runs Shammah House, in Cullinan, to the east of Pretoria, says they have had no contact with either the Gauteng Health Department or the Office of the Premier. She says she is still taking care of 110 patients who were transferred from Life Esidimeni.
Van Niekerk says that the conditions at the centres are through no fault of their own. Shammah House currently has 265 patients, 112 of whom were transferred from Life Esidimeni. Van Niekerk says they receive R70 per patient per day, which equates to just over 230 thousand Rand per month. Van Niekerk maintains that this is not adequate for her to employ the required amount of medical and nursing staff.
The Premier's office has promised to move patients to other facilities, Premier David Makhura, said in a statement. “All patients that are currently placed in NGOs will be transferred back to public health care facilities and state owned institutions where competencies to take care of their specialised needs are available. This process will be initiated within the next 7 days so that it can (be) concluded within 45 days, in line with the recommendations of the Health Ombudsman report.”
The Premier's office says they have already begun the process, and are busy assessing the number of patients who need to be moved. Spokesperson, Thabo Masebe, says that this initial process may be drawn out, as the families of the patients are being consulted to find appropriate facilities to move the patients to.
Section 27, a public interest law centre, is concerned about the well being of the patients that have been left behind at these centres. Section 27 spokesperson Nomatter Ndebele said “Our teams are visiting the NGOs to assess what the conditions are, some of these NGOs were well established but were taking in more patients than they could handle, we want to check on the conditions at the moment”
Meanwhile, families of the victims, are still waiting for Government to provide compensation and support. Most of the families are being legally supported by Section 27.
Lucas Moguerane, who lost his brother in the transfer says, while they have not received any formal support or financial compensation from the Gauteng Department of Health, they will be meeting with the Office of the Premier this weekend.
The National Department of Health in the meantime says they are confident that the tragedy will not be repeated. Spokesperson, Joe Maile, said “We are confident that we have the proper processes and procedures in place in all the other provinces, and this will not happen again”