Gauteng should reconsider closure of mental homes

By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health:

The Gauteng Health Department should reconsider its cancellation of the contract with Esidimeni Life Healthcare which will close mental homes that house 2060 psychiatric patients.

Esidimeni has informed relatives of patients that it looks after that they will be discharged between now and March next year when its contract ends.

I doubt the claims by the department that it will be able to find places for the 2060 patients in existing hospitals and NGOs.

This means that many patients will end up with their families who are not able to cope with them. Others may even end up on the streets with all the risks and tragedy that this entails.

I have been contacted by many desperate relatives who are anxious that treatment continues for their loved ones.

I see little evidence that the department has renovated enough wards and appointed enough staff at existing hospitals to cope with all the discharged patients by March next year.

Mental Health NGOs will also be unable to cope with a large number of extra patients.

More time is needed to make alternative arrangements to avert a disaster in this matter.

The department should consider its options more carefully and extend its contract with Esidimeni for a further period.