Psychiatric evaluation? Detainees could wait for a year

Dr Gwen Malegwale Ramokgopa, new Gauteng MEC for Health provided solutions for the Sterkfontein psychiatric evaluation backlog, but Jack Bloom, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health said more needs to be done. Photo: Citizen/ Tracy Lee Stark

Delays can be expected in court for West Rand and other trial detainees following a recently discovered psychiatric evaluation backlog at the Sterkfontein Psychiatric Hospital.

According to Jack Bloom, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health, it will take at least one year to get an evaluation because there is a backlog of 197 awaiting-trial detainees.

Bloom posed questions in the Gauteng Legislature to the new Gauteng Health MEC, Gwen Ramokgopa and later received a written reply.

Bloom said it is not the first time he has raised questions about the matter and claims the situation has worsened since August, 2015 when he last asked.

“There were 138 male patients awaiting mental evaluation for trial, which would have taken eight to 12 months to process,” Bloom said.

Ramokgopa said steps to reduce waiting times for admission to Sterkfontein have been taken.

Steps to be taken:

• Working closely with courts and the National Health Department to fast-track the process

• Increasing the number of admission beds from 40 to 45

• Employment of more psychiatrists

Bloom feels Ramokgopa’s efforts will help but said more measures are needed to reduce the backlog, which has grown alarmingly.

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Roxy de Villiers

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