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Motsoaledi urges MEC to halt move of EC frail care patients

Minister Motsoaledi wants the EC Social Development MEC to stop plans to move about 240 frail care patients Life Healthcare Esidimeni centres to NGOs.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has asked the National Social Development Department to tell Eastern Cape Social Development MEC Nancy Sihlwayi to stop plans to move some 240 frail care patients from Life Healthcare Esidimeni centres to several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the province.

Sihlwayi insists that the situation in Gauteng, where 94 mentally ill patients died after being transferred from the same facility, is not the same and will not affect her province.

But Motsoaledi says the process must be halted: “Having been in the midst of the situation in Gauteng, I immediately saw a red light and approached the Minister of Social Development in an attempt to halt plans to move the Eastern Cape patients.”

Meanwhile, the Eastern Cape Social Development Department says it is aware of its legal and moral obligation to protect senior citizens.

This comes in the wake of a damning report by the Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba released on Wednesday.

The investigation has revealed that 94 mentally ill patients died after they were moved by the Gauteng Health Department from Life Healthcare Esidimeni centres to unlicensed non-governmental organisation (NGO) facilities.

Patients from two centres in Port Elizabeth need to be moved to other facilities.

This after the contract between the department and the private centres lapsed in December.

Two rounds of tenders have been issued since the contract between Esidimeni and the Eastern Cape Social Development Department lapsed.

MEC Nancy Sihlwayi says: “We saw that out call for ? was too rushed for our 80-year-olds in the province.”

In the investigation into the Life Healthcare Esidimeni tragedy in the Gauteng, the Health Ombudsman described the transfer process as rushed and a shambles.

Sihlwayi adds they have also entered into a partnership with the provincial Health Department to ensure the situation in Port Elizabeth is handled properly.

Read an explainer below, courtesy of Section27:

Life Esidimeni Fact Sheet by Primedia Broadcasting on Scribd

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)