Friday, 28 July 2017

MfD: Czechs need more out-patient psychiatrists

ČTK |
21 April 2017

Prague, April 20 (CTK) - About 1,200 psychiatrists treat patients in the Czech Republic, but it is estimated that at least 800 more are needed in the country of more than 10 million people, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) wrote on Thursday.

Approximately two million Czechs suffered from a mental illness at least once in their lives and over 600,000 people need intensive psychiatric care, the paper writes.

Moreover, hospitals have recently been releasing psychiatric patients prematurely to cut their costs.

"Incomplete treatment is a huge problem. At the moment, I am trying to help a patient who suffered from hallucinations and was just released from hospital. He has medicines for only three days, but he is unable to find an out-patient psychiatrist who would treat him," psychiatrist Zuzana Lattova said, referring to the fact that psychiatrist's offices are overcrowded and do not admit new patients.

Some prematurely released patients may be dangerous, MfD writes, mentioning the case of a psychiatric patient who murdered a 15-year-old student in Zdar nad Sazavou, south Moravia, after her release from hospital in 2014. This tragic case showed that the systems of hospital and out-patient treatment of psychiatric patients are not interconnected well in the country, the paper writes.

Patients are released from psychiatric wards after three-week long stays on average, while previously these patients usually spent more than 50 days in hospital.

"Being a non-material field, psychiatry is loss-making for hospitals," Czech Doctors Chamber deputy head Zdenek Mrozek said.

The Health Ministry has promised to improve the situation in Czech psychiatry. Images of patients kept in isolation in hospital wards in which doctors are unwilling to work should be replaced with modern, open centres for mental health. This system has been successfully operating in the Netherlands, MfD writes.

Not only doctors and psychiatric nurses but also social workers would work in the newly established centres. The social workers would assist patients in tackling problems such as finding accommodation or settling their debts, Czech Psychiatric Association head Martin Anders said.

The Czech Republic may receive up to 3.5 billion crowns in European subsidies for its psychiatric reform. However, most of the money is likely to be paid to construction firms that will build new community centres or reconstruct old buildings.

According to the Health Ministry, about two billion crowns are to cover the establishment of mental health centres and 1.3 million crowns will go to "support for transformation and deinstitutionalisation of healthcare services in the field of psychiatric care." Unfortunately, the ministry has not explained this phrase, MfD writes.

Premysl Suchomel, head doctor of the psychiatric hospital in Havlickuv Brod, east Bohemia, said the system of psychiatric care needs to be changed but the reform has not been considered thoroughly.

"If the money from the European Union was not available, no reform would have existed," Suchomel said.

The ministry will try to spend the finances on the psychiatric reform quickly because otherwise it might miss the deadline for drawing the subsidies, the paper writes.

Out-patient psychiatrists fear that the state will spend a lot of money on psychiatric centres that will remain empty. "The reform is certainly a good idea, but I am afraid that we may not have enough psychiatrists to work in the new premises," psychiatrist Marta Holanova said.

Young Doctors association head Jiri Sedo shares this view. "The ministry should spend the money on the education of new doctors rather that on investments in buildings," he told MfD.

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