DA Gauteng MPL Jack Bloom Picture: Antoine de Ras
Johannesburg – The Democratic Alliance's Gauteng MEC for health Jack Bloom has listed Kopanong Hospital in Vereeniging as another state facility with inadequate psychiatric wards.

In a statement on Wednesday, Bloom said that the hospital had one male psychiatric ward that could accommodate 30 patients, but 243 patients had to be placed in other wards over a one year period because it was full.

"This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature. According to Ramokgopa, 779 psychiatric patients were seen from March 2016 to March this year, but only 536 could be placed in the psychiatric ward," he said.

"This means that every month about 20 psychiatric patients are placed in ordinary wards which is not good practice for security and other reasons."

Earlier this year around 100 mentally ill patients died after they were transferred to various NGOs which were found to have been underresourced, underfinanced and underprepared to take on the influx of patients.

Bloom quoted Ramokgopa saying "if all usable beds are occupied then patients are placed temporarily in a male medical ward awaiting placement in a psychiatric ward as soon as a bed becomes available."

He said Ramokgopa admitted that one patient was assaulted recently by a psychiatric patient, receiving a laceration above the eye, while he knew of another incident where a nurse was stabbed with a pair of scissors.

"Ramokgopa says that extra staff are needed for the psychiatric patients and that the specialised psychiatric ward for males will be completed as well as renovation of a female ward into a specialised psychiatric ward," Bloom said.

"There is a problem of inadequate psychiatric wards at a number of state hospitals in Gauteng, including South Rand Hospital and delayed renovations of the psychiatric wards at the Helen Joseph and Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg hospitals."

Bloom added that the Esidimeni debacle had highlighted the neglect often suffered by psychiatric patients who needed to be placed in modern specialised wards with good security and well-trained staff.