The Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital, one of the leading mental health facilities in the country, is cash strapped and unable to adequately meet its obligations including feeding its inmates.
Dr Alex Vico-Korda, Acting Clinical Care Coordinator for the facility, said, lack of funds to aid operations, particularly to erect a wall around the vast land of the facility also poses significant security concern for clients, staff and the property.
He was reacting to concerns by some relatives of patients that the facility was doing nothing to stop patients from absconding among other allegations, insolent behaviour of some staff towards patients and relatives, and corrupt practices at the facility.
He described the allegations as misleading as the hospital had cogent protocols to prevent patients from absconding.
Dr Vico-Korda told the Ghana News Agency that the structures of the hospital were built for maximum therapeutic effect and not intended as a tightly secured psychiatric hospital.
He said this requires that patients, who may be suffering from depression, had access to open spaces, but unfortunately the design was yet to be developed, posing risk to the patients with some absconding.
“All efforts are however, made to recover patients that may abscond from the facility to continue to receive the necessary care,” he said.
Dr Vico-Korda also denied allegations that the facility was charging some unsubstantiated fees, and that section 42 and 43 of the Mental Health Authority Act 846 (2012), said “any patient who meets the requirement for involuntary treatment shall have a recommendation sent to court to obtain an involuntary treatment order”.
He said this order was to facilitate the treatment of patients lawfully against their will, without which such patients could not continue to be treated beyond the first 72 hours of admission.
“This provision initially required that the relative of our clients make court appearances with the aid of two medical reports from the facility. This was viewed as an inconvenience for the families, as many came from outside the Central Region and were unfamiliar with court proceedings.”
“The facility therefore decided to facilitate the process for the engagement of the court to obtain the necessary treatment order to reduce the burden on families,” he said.
He said each recommendation required an affidavit supported by two medical reports as well as court processing fee of GHC200 obtained from patients requiring an involuntary treatment order to pay for the processing fee, transportation to the court and the two medical reports.
Dr Vico-Korda said the facility currently funds the processing for treatment orders of patients, particularly paupers and vagrants who are incapable of paying.