Lack of suitable facilities keeps over 100 psychiatric patients in hospital

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More than 100 psychiatric patients cannot be discharged from state hospitals because no suitable facilities can be found for them in Gauteng . The Times reports that this was confirmed by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa‚ in a written reply to questions in the provincial legislature.

The report says that according to DA MPL Jack Bloom‚ who asked the questions, it cost about R6.8m a month to keep these patients in three psychiatric hospitals: Weskoppies Hospital – 51 patients costing R53‚000 a month each; Sterkfontein Hospital – 38 patients costing R47‚000 a month each; and Tara Hospital – 18 patients costing R129‚000 a month each.

Ramokgopa said in her reply that patients were discharged once they were stable‚ as assessed by a multi-disciplinary professional team. If they are unable to live alone or with family‚ they are discharged to Contracted Care Centres or licensed NGOs. The subsidy for mental health patients in approved NGOs ranges from R1‚249 to R4‚096 per month.

“The solution is to increase the subsidy so that more NGOs are able to take discharged psychiatric patients and provide the continuing care that they need‚” Bloom is quoted in the report as saying. “Meanwhile‚ many patients desperately need treatment at psychiatric hospitals but cannot be admitted because beds are occupied by patients who should have been discharged. This is not a good situation and changes are needed so that psychiatric patients get good care at every level of the system‚” he added.

The report says Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu resigned earlier this year after Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba found that the Department of Health was negligent when it moved 1‚900 patients from Life Healthcare to poorly equipped NGOs. Nearly 100 people died afterwards who did not receive adequate care.

The Times report

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