Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

GAUTENG health MEC Qedani Mahlangu has dismissed reports of psychiatric patients being missing from mental-health facilities in the province.

"There are no missing patients. All patients are accounted for. If there are‚ please give me the names‚" Mahlangu told journalists at a media briefing at the department of health offices in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Mahlangu said her department was in the process of moving psychiatric patients from the Life Esidimeni facility to psychiatric hospitals and nongovernmental organisations.

The provincial department of health‚ Mahlangu said‚ was working with more than 120 nongovernmental institutions to house mental-health patients around the province.

"We strive to make sure that all mental-care users are afforded services in a humane and dignified manner in whatever we do.

"We took a decision to move away from the existing contract with Life and start treating patients closer to home‚" Mahlangu said.

"We also took a decision that we really need to find a way to make sure these mental-health services are rendered in a manner that will see us spreading the resources efficiently and giving the money back to the community that we serve; that is the mental-health patients." Mahlangu said the department gave Life Esidimeni notice to terminate their contract in September 2015.

"Their bed capacity was 2‚060… From November we started managing the contract actively … We started referring patients far lesser to Life. At the beginning of April‚ we were having only 1‚476 at Life. There is no patient missing anywhere. All patients that were at Life were accounted for. We referred all those patients who are supposed to be at Life to different places‚" said Mahlangu.

The relocation of patients‚ Mahlangu said‚ has allowed the department to "develop‚ resource and uplift community-based nongovernmental organisations for a more inclusive approach to home patient care".

"During this process we have refurbished Weskoppies‚ Sterkfontein and Cullinan psychiatric hospitals accordingly. We call upon all stakeholders to work with us in the best interest of patients. We are going to investigate the deaths at nongovernmental organisations."

TMG Digital