Families outraged as psychiatric patients dumped at NGOs

There has been an outcry from the families of mentally ill patients after relatives were removed from the E-sidi-meni system to the care of NGOs and other organisations.

The government decided on the move saying it was not willing to pay R300 000 a month on housing and medical treatment.

On Tuesday a patient died at the Takalani home in Soweto causing outrage.

Ray White asked spokesperson for the Department of Health, Steve Mabona, to explain why families say they do not know where their loved ones were moved after the old system collapsed.

Mabona insisted that they have been in constant liaison with families. He said "It is unfortunate some of the activities with them have happened along the way", but says the families were informed about where relatives were being sent.

Mabona says they have linked patients to the nearest clinics to ensure they receive medications needed, and have instructed the NGOs involved to ensure these patients are provided with clothing.

When asked by White if these NGOs were adequately equipped to care for psychiatric patients, Mabona said the department had inspected the NGOs and found them to be suitable.

On the issue of the patient dying at Takalani, Mabona insisted the department is looking into such cases closely.

The incident that happened at Takalani, we are still investigating what might have transpired. But there is a sense that some of the patients probably were not well when they were taken there.

Steve Mabona, Department of Health spokesperson

He says the process which began in May is almost at an end. Some patients have been moved to state psychiatric institutions such as Weskoppies and Sterkfontein. He says families do have a say in where their relatives end up.

We have a team on the ground and they can still interact with them. The interest of the patient is our interest.

Steve Mabona, Department of Health spokesperson
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