Gauteng Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa along acting Head of Department Dr Ernest Kenoshi update the media on the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

Johannesburg – The remaining Life Esidimeni patients who were relocated to 27 unlicensed NGOs last year will now be moved to new facilities, the Gauteng Department of Health said on Wednesday.

According to Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramakgopa, the process to transfer these patients will begin next week.

Briefing the media in Joburg on Wednesday, post the State of the Province Address, Ramokgopa said up to 1398 patients were discharged from the Life Esidimeni Hospital in the West Rand last year. While 94 patients have been declared dead, 789 of them are currently being treated and cared for at the NGOs.

"There are patients who were discharged home. We appeal to that the media and stakeholders work with us in a transparent manner to verify these figures," Ramokgopa said.

She said revealed that last week her department asked Life Esidimeni to provide them with a database and medical records of all patients who were treated there and discharged.

Ramakgopa said at this stage she could not give a figure of how many patients were unaccounted for.

So far five of the 27 NGOs have been closed down.

The department has visited the 22 remaining NGOs.

Ramokgopa emphasised that the transfer of patients to new centres will not be rushed but will be carried out properly.

"We also want to ensure that the patients are brought closer to home and families must have access to visit their loved ones. "We are also going to put in effective monitoring and evaluating systems to ensure patients are not compromised during transfers," she said.

On February 1, Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba tabled 18 recommendations after he released a report into the deaths of 94 patients who were transferred to unlicensed NGOs.

The 18 recommendations include among other things that all remedial actions recommended be instituted within 45 days and progress to be reported to the CEO of the OHSC within 90 days. The government has since established task team of specialists, health: doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and occupational therapists.

Meanwhile, the DA has indicated that the death toll could be well over a 100 and claims that there are up to 19 unclaimed bodies at state mortuaries.

Politics and Development