by Andrew Louw – DA Northern Cape Premier Candidate
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Date: 25 March 2019
The failure of the Northern Cape Health Department to operationalize the new mental hospital in Kimberley, is having a dire impact on mental health services in the rest of the province.
This past weekend, a mentally ill patient, who was admitted to Dr Harry Surtie Hospital in Upington, tried to commit suicide by jumping out of a window in the general ward that is elevated from the entrance floor. This is not the first patient to attempt to kill himself in this manner. Another patient suffering from mental illness, who has also been admitted to the facility on numerous occasions, has also attempted to kill himself three times by jumping out of the very same window.
While hospital staff have been fighting with the department for the installation of burglar bars for over two years, in order to stop mentally ill patients from jumping from the windows, no remedial action has been taken by the department.
While this boils down to pure negligence on the part of the department, the problem is bigger than the failure to prioritize patient safety.
The problem is the Health Department’s failure to prioritize mental health services.
The Dr Harry Surtie hospital can only treat patients with mental illness under a 72-hour hold but due to the unavailability of beds at the old West End Hospital in Kimberley, and the delayed opening of the new mental health hospital, these patients end up in the Harry Surtie hospital for weeks, sometimes months. This is a great risk for both mentally ill patients and other patients.
There are also only two psychologists and no doctor to see to these patients, who never get the treatment and care that they need.
It is shameful that mentally ill patients are treated with such disdain by the provincial health department.
Mental illness is a growing challenge and is debilitating more and more lives every year. Urgent action is needed to ensure that mental health care becomes a priority.
A DA government would prioritize access to mental health services. Aside from ensuring that the provincial mental hospital is finally operationalized, we will also expand access to mental health care to all the districts and ensure that all hospitals have specialized units to deal with the growing trend of mental health illnesses.
Only change under a DA led government will ensure quality health care for all people of the Northern Cape.
DA Northern Cape Premier Candidate
082 383 6914
079 226 0991