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05.12.2002 General News

Psychiatric Hospital Faces Closure

By Chronicle/McKinley
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The Psychiatric Hospital, Accra is sitting on a time bomb. The imminent implosion, which is the closure of that health facility, would inevitably unleash onto the streets thousands of dangerous lunatics whose treatment is far from complete. The hospital, which is the biggest psychiatric hospital in Ghana, at the moment has only one psychiatrist; the doctor is forced to treat about 160 patients on busy days and still more patients are left unattended to before the end of day. In emergency situations the hospital has to call the psychiatrist, even when he is off duty. The situation is taking a toll on the health of the psychiatrist, as he is compelled to work even when he is supposed to be on leave. Until immediate efforts are made to restore the situation to normalcy by bringing in more psychiatrists, the hospital would be left with no specialist- since the only remaining psychiatrist who has been working for the last 22 years without rest, now intends to go on leave next year.
Speaking in an interview, the National President of the Psychiatrists Association and co-ordinator of Quality Assurance in the Mental Health Division of the Ghana Health Service, Mr. David McCauley, said even though the hospital has persistently written proposals to the Ministry of Health to offer the hospital more doctors these have proved futile. When the National President of the Psychiatrists Association and Co-coordinator of Quality Assurance in the Mental Health Division of the Ghana Health Service, Mr. David McCauley, was quizzed on the situation, he explained "because of the poor remuneration available, when psychiatrists are sent to further their courses outside the country, they do not return". Mr. McCauley hinted that none of the doctors resides around the hospital; the deputy director of Pharmaceutical Services in charge of psychotropic drugs lives far way at Winneba in the Central Region.
He recalled that recently the Public Nurses Association appealed to the Public Works Department to release to the hospital some of the former Civil Aviation flats, which are situated on their land currently being occupied by squatters, but up till now nothing has been done about it.
He appealed to the government to provide the hospital with adequate remuneration to motivate psychiatrists to work in the hospital and also implement "quality assurance of health to patients".
Mr. David McCauley also cited lack of adequate nurses as a problem facing the hospital.
He revealed that the number of nurses has reduced drastically to 118, both full time and auxiliary nurses who work on shifts.
He said as a result a nurse is forced to attend to 50 patients instead of one nurse attending to four patients under normal circumstances.
Mr. McCauley called on the Ministry of Health to provide the hospital with more nurses.
He said "at least with six psychiatrists and 1000 nurses we can enhance the efficiency of the hospital to become the best in the sub region".

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