An overview of the State Employed Special Interest Group (SESIG) of the South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP) from 2000 - 2012

Bernard Janse van Rensburg


Introduction. The State Employed Special Interest Group (SESIG) of SASOP was established in Durban during the national congress in September 2000. Issues of concern at the time included: suboptimal physical conditions in state hospitals and clinics; stalling of the essential drug list (EDL) review process; and understaffing and difficulties to recruit and retain mental health medical personnel in the state sector. During the past 2 years, attention was given to liaising with the South African Medical Association (SAMA) as a medical labour organisation; standards for psychiatric inpatient structures, services and care; and scheduling a national SESIG strategic workshop.

Methods. Ethics clearance was obtained for a retrospective quantitative review of the demographic and occupational profile of SESIG’s members, as captured by the SASOP database of current and potential members. The investigation included a review of the policies and process by which strategic activities, priorities and measures for progress were identified within the different areas of SESIG’s mandate.

Results. In 2007, 38% (n=144) of the potential total number of stateemployed psychiatrists (380) were paid-up SESIG members; and 53% (n=202) of the potential total number (378) in 2011. The Eastern Cape, Free State and Northern Gauteng subgroups had the biggest percentage of members per region in 2007, which changed in 2011 to Northern Gauteng, Western Cape and Eastern Cape. In 2011, 40% of the total membership were psychiatric registrars. Presentations and discussion during the first national strategic meeting of state employed psychiatrists in 2012 covered: the scope of state sector practice; pertinent policies for state practice; planning per region; teaching and research; accepted principles for care; and strategic mobilisation (details in the supplement of this issue of the SAJP).

Conclusion. Eleven position statements were formulated to guide SASOP/SESIG activities during 2012 - 2014, including statements on: national mental health policy; psychiatry and mental health; infrastructure and human resources; standard treatment guidelines and EDL; HIV in children and adults; substance abuse and addiction; community psychiatry and referral levels; recovery and re-integration; culture, mental health and psychiatry; the specialty status of South African psychiatry; and forensic psychiatry.

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Submitted: 11 July 2012
Published: 01 August 2012

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