INFORMATION GATHERED from the corridors of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital indicates that a number of suspects who have been referred for mental examination in the course of their trial for various offences have been abandoned at the hospital for years, with some of them having been there for over 30 years.
Asked how many suspects had suffered such fate, Francisca Ntow, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the hospital, told the DAILY HERITAGE that, “We wouldn’t be able to give you a definite figure but are quite a good number of patients.
What is worrying is the fact that prosecution officers who are put in charge of these patients fail to come back for them even after the hospital has communicated to them after the findings of their examination on the suspects.
“By right, after assessing them (suspects), a letter is written to the court for them to come for these patients based on the findings; whether they are okay to face prosecution or probably during the time they committed the crime they were not okay or again they were pretending.
“But unfortunately that is not what happened. You write to them, and it takes forever for them to come in for the patients. Sometimes when you follow up, you don’t get the prosecuting officer; he might either had been transferred or probably dead.
“…It is interesting that nobody is taking over the case but we believe that it should be continuous, so once a prosecuting officer is no more, it doesn’t mean that the case should just be left. So, that is how come we have these patients here.”
The PRO said as a result, the management of the hospital had decided they would no longer admit persons referred to the facility from the courts for mental examination unless the prisons or prosecuting officers were ready to bring them from the prisons.
Nurses turned guards
She told the paper that some of the suspects who were brought for assessment “find their way out of this hospital and escape, because the facilities we have are not safe enough to be keeping such patients”.
Ms Ntow said, “By rights, we should be having security officers here like elsewhere to arrest such patients when they hurt others; when you go to Korle-Bu sometimes you see police officers or other general hospitals you see police officers manning these patients, but that is not what happens here.
“It is our own nurses who are actually the security officers and it is not the best so management have decided to stop admitting such patients so what we do now is that these patients are brought in from the prisons and escorted by the prisons officers. Then after their assessment, they go back to the prisons.
Suspects left to rot for 30 years
The PRO told the paper that even though there are directives from the management of the hospital that took effect about two years ago that such patients should discharged, relatives do not want their patients because of the stigma and so we have people who are over 30 years in this hospital.”
“We cannot discharge them to go because the issue is that when we discharge them, they find themselves on the street and even the ones we discharge to relatives, they find themselves on the street, how much more these ones who do not have relatives.”
Ms Ntow said the hospital management would welcome any assistance from the government or the private sector that could help take some of the constraints so the hospital could serve its patients better.
Source: Daily Heritage