The health ombudman, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, has been asked by Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi to investigate the deaths of 36 patients in mental healthcare facilities in Gauteng.
“Taking into account the nature of the matter, the health ombudsman accepted the responsibility and will commence with the investigation as requested,” said Makgoba yesterday.
“As part of initiating the investigation, the office of health ombudsman has been in contact with the MEC for health in Gauteng to determine the background of the matter.
“The health ombudsman has requested from the MEC of health and Gauteng department of health access to all the relevant documents and records relating the matter.
“The scope for the investigation will focus on quality management and care of the patients concerned based on clinical records and any other information relevant to the matter which will assist the investigation and fact finding.
“I view these deaths in a serious light and would like to bring it to a speedy conclusion to lessen the pain and burden on affected families,” said Makgoba.
He noted a team of independent psychiatric experts as well as an expert experienced in public health to assist with the investigation had been put together.
“The office of Health Standards Compliance has also constituted a team of inspectors to conduct inspections at the health establishments concerned. The purpose of the inspections is to assess the veracity of the allegations as well as to determine the capability and competence of the health establishments with regard to the management and care for mental healthcare patients,” Makgoba said.
He added he had been assured by the MEC for health in Gauteng all the requested documents were being prepared and would be forwarded to the office of the health ombudsman on or before this Saturday in both hardcopy and electronic version.
The office noted it was finalising the investigation of the deaths of five patients in Bongani Hospital in the Free State and the alleged incidents of poor healthcare in Polokwane Hospital in Limpopo province.