Community psychiatry: An audit of the services in southern Gauteng

M Y H Moosa, F Y Jeenah


Aim. To audit the community psychiatric services in southern Gauteng with a view to determining whether the objectives of the country’s mental health legislation and policies are being achieved.

Results. Although southern Gauteng’s community psychiatric clinics are situated in a primary health setting, primary health clinicians play no active role in the management of mentally ill patients. Care is supplied mainly by specialist psychiatrists, psychiatric registrars (in training) and psychiatric nurses. For first appointments, a mean of 2 patients are seen per doctor per clinic day for a mean duration of 30 minutes. For follow- up appointments, a mean of 17 patients are seen per doctor per clinic day for a mean duration of 8 minutes. The waiting time for new patient appointments is a mean of 6 months. Follow-up patients are seen once a month by nursing staff and approximately once every 4 months by doctors. An average of 1 in 5 patients is treated with oral atypical antipsychotics; in the majority of clinics, this is the total extent of care. However, where psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists are present, only 0.2% of all users have access to them.

Conclusion. The community psychiatric services, although better than those in some other countries, fall short of what is required by South African legislation and policies. General community health services ought to play an active role in the structure and delivery of psychiatric services by developing and strengthening the current limited services, with an emphasis on cost-effective and preventive approaches. Existing community psychiatric services, if so transformed, could serve as a model for other countries in Africa.

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Submitted: 15 September 2008
Published: 01 June 2008

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South African Journal of Psychiatry    |    ISSN: 1608-9685 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2078-6786 (ONLINE)