DoH fails to act while Townhill patients are left to suffer waiting for electro-convulsive therapy

Democratic Alliance media statement by Dr Imran Keeka, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on  Health

 

DoH fails to act while Townhill patients are left to suffer waiting for electro-convulsive therapy

 

The Democratic Alliance has written to KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, (view here) to call for urgent action after it was established that Electro-Convulsive Therapy treatment (ECT) is being withheld from at least 18 patients a month at Townhill Hospital.

According to the DA’s professional source, while the hospital’s ECT unit is now established and the equipment is in situ, it cannot be used due to a lack of nursing staff. The Department apparently received submissions for these vacant posts some four months ago yet it has failed to act. Meanwhile, the facility’s nursing manager refuses to allocate professional nurses to the unit.

The DA is stunned by this revelation. It is unacceptable that this situation exists at the expense of suffering patients.

Electro-convulsive therapy is generally used when severe depression is unresponsive to other forms of therapy. It is also often used when patients pose a severe threat to themselves or others and it is too dangerous to wait until medications take effect. Given these factors, the seriousness of the situation at Townhill cannot be under-estimated.

The DA expects MEC Dhlomo to act immediately to ensure that this Unit is working as it should be. It is on his watch that mentally impaired patients are being made to wait for the help they so desperately need.

Failure to do so will be yet another indictment against the MEC and his Department who have already shown that they do not have the interests of KZN’s patients with mental illness at heart. This is symptomatic of a merciless and uncaring government.

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