Ricochet News

Eastern Cape Health Dept extends Life Esidimeni Kirkwood contract

Sep 5, 2018
Eastern Cape Health Dept extends Life Esidimeni Kirkwood contract

The Eastern Cape Health Department has assured mental healthcare patients at Life Esidimeni Kirkwood, in Kirkwood, in the Sundays River Valley Municipality, that their lives are not in danger with the end of the health facility’s contract.

“The lives of mental healthcare patients at Life Esidimeni Kirkwood are not under threat due to the expiring of the contract at the end of September,” said the department.

Around 700 mental patients call the Life Esidimeni Kirkwood facility home.

With the contact expiring in September, there were fears of a repeat of the Life Esidimeni tragedy that happened in 2017 when 144 psychiatric patients died after the Gauteng health department terminated its contract with Life Esidimeni group and moved the patients to poorly-equipped NGOs.

In a statement on Tuesday, the department added the contract extension with the healthcare facility has been approved for another three months, while the department looks for suitable service providers for mental health care service.

“The mental services at the facility will not be disrupted during this period and no patients will be moved to any unregistered facility at the directive of the department during this period.

"The three months extension period is to ensure that a credible, suitable mental healthcare provider is appointed,” said Eastern Cape Health MEC’s spokesperson, Lwandile Sicwetsha.

The search for service providers will include the new bid for provision of chronic mental health services, persons with severe mental health and disabilities and community based rehabilitation services.

“The department will not endanger the life of patients by placing them with unregistered non- governmental organisations. The department is committed to the mental act provision of human rights based management of mental care services user,” said Sicwetsha.

-additional reporting SAnews.gov.za