The Malta Independent 16 September 2019, Monday

Richmond Foundation demands Mount Carmel be closed for all psychiatric conditions

Wednesday, 12 June 2019, 10:12 Last update: about 4 months ago

The Richmond Foundation has demanded that the authorities immediately close down the Mont Carmel psychiatric hospital for all psychiatric conditions, following recent revelations about the horrid state of the hospital’s wards.

The Foundation has also demanded the publication of the final strategy for psychiatric health, the introduction of a Crisis Intervention/Psychiatric Emergency Service, the development of youth early intervention services, a clear plan for the strengthening and development of other community services, and the building of a new acute psychiatric facility at Mater Dei Hospital.

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The Foundation said yesterday that, “As a patient organization Richmond Foundation has been closely following the issues related to Mount Carmel Hospital which have been carried by the media recently.

“We join the Clinical Chair of Psychiatry, Dr Anton Grech and the Malta Association of Psychiatry in agreement that Mount Carmel Hospital is, and has been, unfit to treat patients for several years now.

“We agree that mental health services in the community should with immediacy become the backbone of our mental health services. They are to be bolstered, strengthened through more resources and enhanced to offer a larger variety of services thereby efficiently serving more people with different needs. Only through the development of community care will admission into hospital be avoided unless absolutely necessary. Unless they are in need of acute psychiatric care, a person would not need to be treated in a hospital but would be supported in the community. Hospitalization should happen only when the person is unwell and it should be at Mater Dei.

“We believe that every person deserves to be freed from stigma. Stigma is cultural and lingers on. Mount Carmel Hospital in Attard still carries the stigma associated with Villa Fraconi’s primitive interventions.

“Having consulted numerous clients of the Foundation we have the certainty to say that even though the care in the hospital may be good, the building is not conducive to recovery. No one with a mental health condition should be made to remain in Mount Carmel Hospital. No one, for whatever illness, should be isolated from the main stream hospital.

“The edifice should be completely re-purposed so as to unlatch the stigma associated with the place from all mental health conditions. Specialisations can easily be accommodated in the community. The historical building could easily lend itself to innovative use following appropriate restoration.”

The Foundation said that all these aspects were included in the draft mental health strategy published in December 2018, and said that they should now be the focus of the final Mental Health Strategy document. Over three months have elapsed since closing of the consultation period.

“We are eagerly waiting the publication of this document, so that its implementation can get underway.

“Albeit a number of initiatives are already being undertaken, we maintain it is imperative to avoid a piecemeal approach. The sector needs a holistic plan to ensure that developments are congruent, coordinated and consistent and that they finally ensure smooth pathways for all service users.”

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