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Health News of Sunday, 25 October 2015

Source: The Finder

Street mental patients to rise

Accra Psychiatric Hospital Accra Psychiatric Hospital

The number of mentally challenged patients roaming the streets in the country could increase significantly due to the increase in fees at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital.

The hospital, a few weeks ago, increased its service charges to help it keep up with its operational cost and “to supplement funding by the central government towards the provision of mental healthcare, and do represent the full cost of care,” the hospital noted in a notice of the new charges.

But Weekend Finder has gathered that since the introduction of the new fees, admissions at the hospital have dropped significantly, mainly due to the inability of people to pay.

Per the new charges, a patient who is admitted to a non–VIP facility is required to pay GHC620.

This amount includes a folder fee of GHC40, up from GHC25; consultation fee of GHC30, up from a previous fee of GHC10 and an admission fee of GHC550 for the first one month.

Admission to the VIP ward costs GHC600 for the first two weeks and a subsequent fee of GHC250 per week. This amount in exclusive of folder and consultation fees.

Chief Psychiatrist and acting Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority, Dr Akwasi Osei, a few months ago, announced plans to rid the city of mentally challenged persons as part of programmes to be undertaken by the authority.

The programme dubbed: 'Operation clear the street and unchain mental health patients,' was expected to help take mental patients off the streets for treatment and reintegrate them into the society.

But the new development regarding charges would make that plan an upward task for the newly constituted Mental Health Authority.

Some nurses who spoke to Weekend Finder on condition of anonymity were optimistic that the hospital’s resolve to charge the revised fees would help make health care delivery at the hospital more efficient.

Some of them said the new fees would make relatives of patients more responsible towards their sick relations.

“Sometimes, some relatives come and dump their sick relations here. Others too don’t take good care of the patients who are discharged, and because they don’t pay anything, they relapse few weeks after they are discharged, and they come and dump them on us again”, one of the nurses noted.

The hospital has also started charging fees for medical reports to courts, embassies, schools, child assessment or other purposes. Previously, the facility did not charge for these services.

A notice at the hospital states that the new charges are “to enable it meet the high cost of essential non-medical consumables needed for the provision of uninterrupted care to patients.”

Management further urged the general public to co-operate with new efforts “at ensuring the availability of essential materials needed for smooth operation of the facility.”

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