15/02/2017 07:11 SAST | Updated 15/02/2017 08:25 SAST

Life Esidimeni Patients To Be Moved Back To Hospitals — Motsoaledi

National Health Ministry says 700 patients will eventually be moved from NGOs.

Gallo Images / Daily Sun / Jabu Kumalo
Protests and remembrance in October 2016 for some some of the 94 psychiatric patients who died after being transferred from Life Healthcare Esidimeni facilities to NGOs in Gauteng.

The national and Gauteng departments of health have begun moving patients back to Life Esidimeni centres, in line with recommendations by the health ombudsman, according to The Times.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi briefed the media on Tuesday, saying there are plans in place to move 700 patients who were moved from the Esidimeni centres to NGOs, but that decisions still had to be made about how many could be accommodated.

More than 94 mentally ill patients died after being moved from Life Esidimeni hospital and centres to 27 NGOs by the Gauteng Department of Health. The NGOs were found to be ill equipped to treat the patients, and many were not properly registered, according to an investigation report by the Health Ombud which was released two weeks ago.

The Times reported on Wednesday that seven NGOs had been shut down, while Motsoaledi said the rest would be shut down, too. He reportedly said a team of health professionals had visited the remaining 20 to assess the patients. Motsoaledi told the media he had met with the CEO of Life Esidimeni, who said the institution could take back 75 patients this week, and would need eight weeks to prepare for the rest.

The Times reported that the police were in the process of identifying a further 19 bodies of patients who died at the NGOs, which were not claimed by their families.