The statement below follows an oversight by the DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Health, Lindy Wilson MP, and the DA Spokesperson for Health in the North West Province, Dr Tutu Faleni MPL, to the Bophelong Psychiatric Hospital and the Mafikeng Provincial Hospital.
Pictures can be found here, here, here, here and here.
Yesterday, during an oversight inspection at the Bophelong Psychiatric Hospital the DA found that the facility was only partially operational. The hospital currently only has two wards providing psychiatric treatment to 97 state patients, despite having the capacity to care for 259 patients.
The Bophelong Psychiatric Hospital is functioning on what can only be described as a skeleton staff. There is only 1 psychiatrist and 1 doctor treating patients, who are not based at the centre and also have to provide care to the psychiatric patients at the psychiatric unit at the Mafikeng Municipal Hospital. Furthermore, there are just 12 staff members providing care to patients.
The DA met with concerned patients who complained about the poor and unhygienic conditions they have been subjected to at the hospital. There is no laundry facility, ventilation in the wards was totally inadequate, there is no hot water in the showers, which back up due to drainage problems, and the urinals were not working properly and leaking. As a result, the stench in the bathrooms was overpowering.
The staff also admitted that they are often assisted by security personnel to deal with psychiatric patients. This is very alarming considering that the security might not have proper training to deal with the needs of psychiatric patients.
Present costs on the hospital exceed R450 million. To date, the hospital has only made provision for state patients referred by the Courts. No provision has been made for the general psychiatric patients. This, despite general psychiatric patient numbers far exceeding those of state committed patients.
This means that general psychiatric patients are still referred to the psychiatric unit at the Provincial Hospital. This arrangement highlights the poor planning of the North West Government as well as the already controversial Department of Health.
A visit to the Municipal Hospital was equally alarming.
The hospital was ghastly. It is in disrepair, filthy and overgrown. Glass blood collection vials were found in water channels where algae grows alongside the wards, the boiler is not working and general maintenance is seriously lacking.
In the maternity ward, we found some patients sleeping on the floor and others making use of make shift beds. The ward is equipped to cope with 25 maternity patients, but currently has between 40 and 50 patients at a time. The hospital is seriously under resourced and understaffed.
The conditions at the Provincial Hospital can only be described as inhuman and degrading. The hospital is completely incapable of providing poor residents with safe and proper health services.
The Department of Health continues to showcase their disdain for psychiatric patients and the general public. The conditions that our people have been subjected to is unacceptable.
The people of the North West deserve better than the uncaring ANC; they need Total Change under a DA-led government, where they are cared for, treated with dignity and always put first.