Dr. Kiran Sukeri’s days of practicing as a psychiatrist could soon be over if the Health Professions Council of South Africa acts on health ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba’s recommendation that his conduct is reported to the statutory independent body tasked with registering doctors in the country.
The former head of psychiatry at Tower Psychiatric Hospital and Psychosocial Rehabilitation Centre in Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape, who quit and is now in private practice, has claimed conditions of care at the institution are poor and that there is a high rate of patient deaths.
Sukeri’s claims are part of the 86-page Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC) report following an investigation into allegations of patient mismanagement and rights violations at Tower made public by Makgoba in Pretoria yesterday, before being handed over to Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi.
The psychiatrist is said to have falsified death statistics at Tower by claiming that over an eight-year period, there were 90 deaths, while the report put the number at 68.
According to the OHSC findings, “no prima facie evidence of institutionalised, systematic or deliberate violations of human rights by staff was found at Tower”.
The report said the health ombudsman could confirm only one unquestionable instance of rights violation “following a detailed and systematic evidence-based analysis of Dr. Sukeri’s complaint”.
Following the OHSC, Mental Health Review Board and Eastern Cape Technical Task Team investigation and 34 interviews conducted by the ombudsman at Tower, the report also found there was “no other degrading and inhuman treatment observed or found as alleged by Dr. Sukeri”.
Makgoba said: “Dr. Sukeri’s coy complaint was primarily about chronic system failures and the Eastern Cape department of health’s neglect of mental health care services with pernicious systematic effects and the power struggles for change … It was not about human rights violations