Impact of the South African Mental Health Care Act No. 17 of 2002 on regional and district hospitals designated for mental health care in KwaZulu-Natal
Methods. Medical managers in 49 ‘designated’ hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) were surveyed on infrastructure, staffing, administrative requirements and mental health care user case load pertaining to the Act for the month of July 2009.
Results. Thirty-six (73.4%) hospitals responded to the survey; 30 (83.3%) stated that the Act improved mental health care for MHCUs through the protection of their rights, provision of least restrictive care, and reduction of discrimination; 10 (27.8%) had a psychiatric unit and, of the remaining 26 hospitals, 11 (30.6%) had general ward beds dedicated for psychiatric admissions; 16 (44.4%) had some form of seclusion facility; and 24 (66.7%) provided an outpatient psychiatric service. Seventy-six per cent of admissions were involuntary or assisted. Thirteen of the 32 (40.6%) state psychiatrists in KZN were employed at 8 of these hospitals. Designated hospitals expressed dissatisfaction with the substantial administrative load required by the Act. The Review Board had not visited 29 (80.6 %) hospitals in the preceding 6 months.
Conclusion. Although ‘designated’ hospitals admit and treat assisted and involuntary MHCUs, they do so against a backdrop of inadequate infrastructure and staff, a high administrative load, and a low level of contact with Review Boards.
Suvira Ramlall, University of KwaZulu Natal
Jennifer Chipps, University of KwaZulu Natal
Maurice Mars, University of KwaZulu Natal
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Date published: 2010-10-01
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