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As more horrors are revealed at the Esidimeni arbitration hearings, a report adopted yesterday by the Gauteng Legislature's Health Committee finds that mental health NGOs in Gauteng are struggling with inadequate subsidies, new licensing requirements, and proper staffing and infrastructure.

 

This according to DA MPL Jack Bloom, who said the report was based on visits by committee researchers to 10 mental health NGOs.

 

The NGOs receive subsidies from the Gauteng Health Department that range from R2 278 to R2 700 per month for permanent patients.

 

They complain that the subsidy is insufficient to cover their costs and requested the Department to commit to a three year increase in the amount.

 

"Lack of money makes it difficult for the NGOs to get qualified staff and to maintain infrastructure to an acceptable standard. The subsidies are badly administered, sometimes resulting in late payments and even the return of unpaid amounts to the treasury at the end of the financial year," Bloom said in a statement.

 

He added that NGOs also needed assistance to comply with the more stringent licensing requirements, including expensive rezoning of properties with local councils.

 

Many of the NGOs complained about the long waiting times faced by their patients at hospitals - sometimes as long as an entire day. This, Bloom said, was particularly stressful for mental patients.

 

He stated: "I hope that the Department responds positively to the recommendations of the report to rectify the problems that have been identified. 


"It is unfair that NGOs get such a low subsidy compared to the R15 000 paid per month for each mental health patient at Selby Park Hospital and the re-opened Esidimeni facilities. I fear that there will be more abuses of mental patients if NGOs are not subsidized enough and assisted to meet the licensing standards.


"This should be one of the lessons learned from the Esidimeni disaster."