Health MEC quits, officials face disciplinary action after psychiatric patients starve to death
The head of the Gauteng health department and other senior officials identified in the Health Ombudsman’s report on the deaths of 94 psychiatric patients, will face disciplinary action, Gauteng Premier David Makhura announced on Wednesday.
“I have instructed the director-general in the office of the premier to urgently institute appropriate action to deal with the recommendations for the Ombudsman,” Makhura said.
“There can be no passing of the buck.”
The premier said he would urgently implement all recommendations made by the ombudsman.
In the meantime, all patients currently placed at NGOs would be transferred back to public healthcare facilities and state-owned institutions so that their specialised needs were catered for.
This would happen in the next seven days and be concluded in 45 days.
Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu resigned on Tuesday night ahead of the official release of the report.
Makhura said he had accepted her resignation.
“Like all members of our provincial executive council, she fully understands that if something goes profoundly wrong in your area of responsibility and executive authority, you have to take direct accountability and not pass the buck to junior officials,” he said.
Former national health minister Gwen Ramokgopa will replace Mahlangu. In the meantime social development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza would act as health MEC in the meantime.
According to ombudsman Prof Malegapuru Makgoba’s report, patients died of starvation and lack of water in the overcrowded nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) they were placed.
He found that the Gauteng health department was negligent when it moved 1‚900 patients from Life Healthcare facilities to 27 unlicensed facilities.
He said the number of fatalities was provisional as bodies remained unidentified in morgues and some families were still coming forward with the names of dead people. His report is titled 94 silent deaths and still counting.