02/02/2017 21:31 SAST | Updated 02/02/2017 21:35 SAST

Government Task Team Starts Planning Relocation Of Esidimeni Psychiatric Patients

About 1,900 patients were transferred from the Life Esidimeni hospital to unregistered NGOs and the survivors must now be moved to hospitals.

Gallo Images / Beeld / Felix Dlangamandla
The October 2016 protest over the deaths of psychiatric patients moved out of the Life Esidimeni hospital to unregistered NGOs, where at least 94 dead due to negligence.

A government task team has started working on the relocation of mentally ill patients housed at unregulated NGOs, the Gauteng provincial government said on Thursday.

According to the provincial government, its task team is led by the Gauteng Director-General in the Office of the Premier, Phindile Baleni, together with the national Health Department director general Precious Matsoso.

The provincial government said in a statement the team visited the NGOs to establish the correct number of mental health patients currently being cared for. "The representatives of the families were also part of the task team to ensure that families are part of the relocation process."

In addition, the task team will also identify public health institutions that are well-equipped to care for the mental health patients, the provincial government said.

"All this information will be critical in determining the correct steps as part of relocating the mental health patients."

The move is in line with Health Ombudsman, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba's recommendations to Premier David Makhura following the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of mentally ill patients in Gauteng.

"Makhura assured the families and people of Gauteng that he will urgently implement the Health Ombudsman's recommendations without any reservation or delay," the statement read.

Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu resigned from her post after a damning report by the health ombudsman that at least 94 mentally ill patients in Gauteng died as a result of neglect and mismanagement.

The deaths occurred between March and December 2016 following a "reckless" attempt by the government to save money, Makgoba had said.

A total of 1,900 patients were transferred by the Gauteng health department from the Life Esidimeni health institution to various unregulated care organisations, he said.