Vacant psychiatric posts blamed for ‘prison crisis’
Experts warn of an impending crisis as more than 100 awaiting trial prisoners miss assessments for more than two years
Failure to fill vacant posts for psychiatrists and psychologists is compromising the provision of mental healthcare services in the public sector. In 2014, about a third of available posts were not filled and there is no indication that this situation has improved. Experts also blame the shortage for what they view as an impending crisis in Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape, where more than 100 awaiting trial prisoners have been waiting for more than two years to be assessed on their fitness to appear in court. Mental health was brought into the spotlight after health ombudsman Malegapuru Makgoba revealed that negligence and recklessness on the part of the Gauteng health department had led to the deaths of more than 100 mentally ill patients. Data from 2014 from the provinces shows that fewer than 600 psychiatry and psychology specialists were servicing 45-million South Africans who did not have access to medical schemes. Health Minster Aaron Motsoaledi told Parliament in June that 11...