Seven hundred psychiatric patients in the Eastern Cape are at risk‚ with the Life Esidimeni facility in Kirkwood facing closure after its contract was extended only to December. The decision not to renew the contract flies in the face of several warnings that the nongovernmental sector in the province does not have the capacity or training to care for most of the patients. This follows the distressing Life Esidimeni saga in 2017, when 144 psychiatric patients died after the Gauteng health department terminated its contract with the Life Esidimeni group in the province and moved the patients to ill-equipped nongovernmental organisations (NGOs). The Eastern Cape health department’s contract with Life Esidimeni Kirkwood expires at the end of September and officials have agreed to extend it for three months while they "test the market", provincial health spokesperson Lwandile Sicwetsha said. Life Esidimeni says it has not been told yet that the contract will not be renewed. The decision...

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