Gauteng government still failing to provide adequate mental health services

July 26, 2018

by Dr Heinrich Volmink MPL – DA Member of Gauteng Health Committee

The Gauteng Department of Health currently has a 14.39% vacancy rate for psychologists and 7.28% vacancy rate for psychiatrists.

According to the reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, by the Acting MEC for Health, Faith Mazibuko the department currently has 266 posts for psychologists for the 2017/2018 financial year. This number has decreased from 320 in the 2016/2017 financial year. While the number of posts for psychiatrists has remained at 96 for the last two financial years.

The acting MEC indicated that following hospitals have vacancies for psychologists:

DIRECTORATE/INSTITUTION VACANCIES
Carletonville District Hospital 1
Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital 1
Chris Hani Bara Hospital 2
Dr George Mukhari Hospital 3
Ekurhuleni Health District 1
Johannesburg Metro Area 3
Metsweding District Area 8
Rahima Moosa Mother & Child Hospital 3
Sterkfontein Hospital 1
Steve Biko Academic Hospital 2
Tambo Memorial Hospital 1
Tara De H. Moross Centre 1
Tembisa Hospital 1
Tshwane/Metsweding District Services 1
Tshwane Metro Area 3
Tshwane Rehabilitation 2
Weskoppies Hospital 3
TOTAL 38

Psychologists, like psychiatrists, are essential for care of patients who need mental health services and are important in long-term treatment.

The mental health services offered by the department is important as many of Gauteng’s poorest people rely on these services offered by government. If all the vacancies are not filled then those who rely on the service the most will not be able to get the treatment they need.

Despite the Esidimeni tragedy that highlighted the plight of mentally ill patients in the province, the Gauteng government is still not doing enough to protect this vulnerable group of people.

The fact that these vacancies have not been filled shows that ANC-led government under the leadership of Premier David Makhura is failing on its mandate to provide proper health care services to the people of Gauteng.

I will be engaging with the MEC to ascertain why these key vacancies have not been filled.

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