Psych patients’ transfer ‘flawed’
THURSDAY OCTOBER 12 2017 THE ARBITRATION hearing into the Life Esidimeni tragedy has heard how the health department had no proper plan and not enough resources to ensure the safety and welfare of psychiatric patients during the relocation.
Furthermore the patients’ situation was worsened when the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to which they were transferred to did not receive grants from the state.
The Gauteng health department’s chief director of planning Levy Mosenogi, who was in charge of the Esidimeni project, could not supply answers to questions posed to him by Legal Aid’s advocate, Lilla Crouse, or chairman of the hearing, retired Justice Dikgang Moseneke.
“Five hundred of them had no IDs, and nonetheless the contract was terminated and people were moved. Why did this happen? Why did you not prevent that from happening?” Moseneke asked.
Crouse lamented the lack of a valid service agreement between the department and the NGOs.
“If you move people without a service agreement, chances are that patients will suffer because of lack of funds. So in sending patients without an agreement, that would be irresponsible. Do you agree with me?” she asked Mosenogi.
“Yes, mistakes crept Mosenogi replied.
He said as a leader of the project, he should have checked to make sure everything was arranged.
“Justice, this was a complex process… sometimes when you look back, one can say that things should have been done differently.”
Health Ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba’s investigation into the patients’ deaths found that inadequate vehicles, such as open bakkies, had been used to transfer patients from Esidimeni.
Some of the chronic patients were tied to the vehicles during the transportation.
Moseneke asked Mosenogi if he managed to find out the common cause of the deaths.
“Some had diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic diseases,” said Mosenogi.
Crouse asked Mosenogi if there had been any disciplinary processes against him, to which he replied, no.
The arbitration hearing continues. – ANA in,”