South Africa 4.3.2018 12:46 pm

Esidimeni again? Eastern Cape psychiatric patients vanish without a trace – report

Esidimeni again? Eastern Cape psychiatric patients vanish without a trace – report

It may seem as if the Eastern Cape government has learnt nothing from the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

A psychiatrist in the Eastern Cape has claimed there are far more deaths in his psychiatric hospital than the authorities let on.

City Press reports psychiatrist Dr Kiran Sukeri resigned after witnessing the “degrading and inhumane” treatment of patients at the Tower Psychiatric Hospital, where he was working, in Fort Beaufort.

Sukeri says there is a “lost register” of patient deaths that has been replaced with a new one at the hospital.

The new register is the one the provincial health department cited last year when giving the figures of patient deaths. The department is quoted in The Herald as saying 25 patients died between 2012 and 2017.

But it contradicts the “lost register”, whose copies Sukeri has shown to Rapport.

Sukeri’s register shows that 90 patients have died at the Tower hospital since 2010. Four of those were in January 2018 alone, and only two of them have been signed off by a medical doctor.

The claims include patients being placed in solitary confinement in ways that overstep psychiatric guidelines.

Sukeri says he was asked to vacate his office after laying complaints with the health ombudsman, the SA Human Rights Commission and the SA Society of Psychiatrists.

These allegations come 18 months after Esidimeni Life deaths shook the country.

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