‘No repeat of Gauteng deaths’ vowed

Health MEC Dr Phumza Dyantyi has demanded that patients staying at the Lorraine and Algoa frail care centres be medically examined and admitted to hospital, if necessary, before being moved from the two Port Elizabeth facilities.

The frail care centres are due to close on December 31.

“We are not going to allow what happened in Gauteng to happen here,” health department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said.

In Gauteng, 36 psychiatric patients died after being moved from a Life Esidimeni centre this year.

Kupelo said the department was finalising a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Social Development.

“We will provide healthcare to the residents once they are moved,” he said.

“But we are making it very clear in this document that we will not take over the day-to-day care of these patients.

“That is the Department of Social Development’s job.”

 Kupelo said he could not give details yet of when doctors would examine patients at the care centres and when the process would be finalised.

“The Department of Social Development has approached us to assess the health status of the patients at the two Life Esidimeni centres,” Kupelo said.

“We will also ensure patients continue to receive healthcare in their new home.”

He said the transition to new care facilities would be jointly managed by the two departments.

Social Development MEC Nancy Sihlwayi said they were close to finalising the memorandum.

She said health services would be the responsibility of the Department of Health.

It was the department’s policy that they would no longer outsource jobs that the government could perform itself.

She said the frail care contract was too expensive and that the department was unable to pay it and, as a result, had run up a huge debt. She declined to quantify the debt. Sihlwayi has remained tightlipped about the timeline to move patients. She would only say the move would happen before December 31.

By yesterday afternoon, no appointment of a service provider to take over the care of the patients had been announced.

The bidding process for the contract closed on November 21.

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