by Andrew Louw – DA Northern Cape Premier Candidate
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Date: 06 November 2018
The Democratic Alliance reiterates our call to the MEC for Health, Fufe Makatong, to publicly commit to a plan for the opening and operationalization of the new mental health hospital in Kimberley.
Pending the long awaited opening of this facility, which is 12 years overdue, there are several shortcomings in the conditions of care for mental health patients in the province. These challenges were highlighted during the oversight inspection I conducted at the West End Hospital in Kimberley today, alongside provincial chairperson Harold McGluwa. Mental health patients are hospitalized in this facility until the opening of the mental health hospital, although nobody can as yet confirm a date for the opening.
The staff at the hospital are clearly professionals who are dedicated to their calling and devoted to providing the highest quality of care to patients.
But the hospital is burdened by the same lack of resources which has come to characterize the functioning of the department of health under the failing ANC government. Concrete strategies for the funding and resourcing of medical facilities must be raised as a main priority when the MEC for Finance, Economic Development & Tourism comes to table the adjustment appropriation later this month.
The delivery of medical care is hampered by understaffing and the fact that the hospital is grossly underpar in terms of staffing norms for mental health patients is a grave concern.
One of the challenges at the hospital is the fact that it still operates its voluntary ward for mental health patients as a mixed gender ward. This concern and its related implications for patient safety was raised on numerous previous occasions. While we know that the staff will not willingly expose patients to risk, it cannot be accepted any longer.
It is also unacceptable that state patients are still being accommodated in prison, often in inhumane conditions. While there are currently more than 70 state patients awaiting care and observation, the West End Hospital only have 36 beds available for state patients to be admitted. The lack of beds causes state patients to be accommodated in prisons, where they have to sleep on floors and often don’t have access to the specialized medical care they require. Delays with completion of forensic observations also hampers the delivery of criminal justice, which trials being postponed and families of victims or suspects being exposed to further secondary trauma.
The lack of adequate care for mental health patients across the province is one of many examples which proves that the failing ANC government cannot deliver basic services to residents. Only change under a DA-led government, which prioritises the needs of people over the needs of politicians, will ensure that the delivery of basic services is sped up.
DA Northern Cape Premier Candidate
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