Gauteng Democratic Alliance (DA) MPL Jack Bloom on Thursday said he welcomed the suspension of Dr Barney Selebano, head of the Gauteng health department, over the disastrous transfer of mentally ill patients that resulted in 94 deaths.
Dr Selebano was suspended on Wednesday for his part in the bungled transfer of psychiatric patients from Healthcare Life Esidimemi to unlicensed NGOs. Qedani Mahlangu resigned as MEC for health last week the day before the damning health ombudsman report was released.
The report revealed shocking haste and a lack of compassion for patients during the transfer that was prompted by the provincial health department’s need to cut costs.
Bloom said he was aware that a notice of intention to suspend had been served on Dr Makgabo Manamela, the mental health head.
“This is a necessary step in the disciplinary process, which will open the way for new top level appointments that will hopefully be more professional and ethical,” said Bloom.
He said there were nine other senior officials identified in the health ombudsman’s report that he expected would be suspended and disciplined.
“The newly appointed acting head of the department, Dr Ernest Kenoshi, faces a daunting task in restoring morale and establishing effective management, and the priority now is finding places for all the mental health patients at unlicensed NGOs, as existing psychiatric hospitals are already overcrowded,” said Bloom.
He said the department should request Life Healthcare Esidimeni to reopen their facilities in order to accommodate the large number of mental health patients.