Democratic Alliance Gauteng provincial legislator Jack Bloom. File picture

Johannesburg - A report by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) which visited George Mukhari Hospital in Gauteng province this week and found overcrowding and poor facilities for mental health patients is worrying, the main opposition Democratic Alliance said on Thursday.

The SAHRC report highlights a general problem of long delays in the refurbishment of mental health wards in Gauteng hospitals because of incompetent contractors, DA shadow member of the executive committee for health in the province Jack Bloom said.

"There were 37 patients in a mental health ward equipped for only 14 patients, and they were disturbed by noise and intrusive contractors working to refurbish the facility," he said in a statement.

"Patients used one bath tub in an isolation room meant for uncontrolled patients, and there was a hole in the wall where animals could enter."

Bloom said the mental health wards at the Charlotte Maxeke hospital in Johannesburg should have been completed 10 years ago, while renovations of wards at Helen Joseph were recently completed nearly three years behind schedule.

He urged the Gauteng health department to take seriously the recommendations of the SAHRC after its inspections.

"It is enormously distressing that mental health patients are still treated badly in Gauteng hospitals even after the Esidimeni tragedy where 144 patients died from gross neglect," Bloom added.

African News Agency (ANA)