Over 90% of patients at National Psychiatric Hospital do not belong there – Dr. Mahadeo
The Health Ministry’s investigation into the fire at the National Psychiatric Hospital has brought to the fore a long-standing issue plaguing the institution, namely that a majority of the patients housed there do not actually belong.
This is according to the Director-General of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Vishwa Mahadeo.
“We have about 90% of the patients in the institution who really do not need to be there,” he said in an interview with the News Room on Saturday.
“The relatives do not want to collect them because mental health still has a stigma attached to it so [when] we send them to the homes of their relatives, they put them out in the streets.”
According to Dr. Mahdeo, that very stigma has left patients, mostly elders, abandoned at the hospital for years on end.
Another major issue, Dr. Mahadeo pointed to, was persons being sent to the institutional by the Courts to determine whether they are of a sound mind. The period is usually for 48-hours but many persons are kept beyond that.
“The doctors determine after 48 hours that these are not really mental health patients to be kept in the hospital, but they cannot discharge because they were sent with a court order…because if they are not mental health patients they should not be institutionalized there,” he continued.
As it relates to the investigation into the fire, that report has since been completed and submitted to the Ministry of Health.
Recommendations have been made relating to baseline management and security issues at the institution.
The fire started following a fight that broke out between three male patients on June 5in the Chalet Four Male Admission Ward which housed 31 patients.
The police report said the matron, along with the supervisor, and two male nurses went to the ward where they saw smoke and heard patients shouting for help.
The Fire Service was contacted and firefighters managed to extinguish the fire, but during that time, the patients left from a southern door and nine of them went missing. The patients have since been returned to the institution.