Department implements Health Ombudsman report, but careful of labour relations

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi says he has briefed President Jacob Zuma about the Health Ombudsman report on 94 psychiatric patients who died after being transferred from the care of Life Esidimeni Hospital to various unlicensed facilities.

Motsoaledi says he will release a comprehensive statement with Gauteng Premier David Makhura on progress of implementing the 18 points mentioned by the Health Ombudsman.

Ombudsman's report found that MEC Qedani Mahlangu and other senior officials were negligent and reckless in their decision to transfer patients.

Minister says his department has started implementing Ombudsman's recommendations, but emphasises that it can't all be done overnight because there are labour relations that must followed.

There are still bodies in the mortuaries that have not been claimed, and so they cannot be identified. The police have been hard at work since last year to try and identify those people.

Aaron Motsoaledi, Health Minister

Somebody was asking if I'm embarrassed by this, and I said it goes beyond disappointment, I'm actually distressed and angry. It generates anger and distress because something like this should not have happened in the first place.

Aaron Motsoaledi, Health Minister

Motsoaledi explains that in 2002, the National Health Act transferred all the authority regarding mental health to the provinces, and minister's job is only to come with policies and guidance.

He says Health Ombudsman made two recommendations.

In order to avoid this tragedy, the Mental Act of 2002 must be reviewed to bring back powers to the national minister.

Aaron Motsoaledi, Health Minister

The problem of this magnitude should not happen without approval of the minister.

Aaron Motsoaledi, Health Minister

Listen to the full interview with Health Minister below...

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