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NURSES TO SET PSYCHIATRIC PATIENTS FREE

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MBABANE - Psychiatric patients will discharge themselves as nurses are going to open all the gates at the National Psychiatric Centre.


The national Psychiatric Centre is located at Two Sticks, Manzini. Members of the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU), during a presentation of their petition to the Principal Secretary in the Ministry Public Service Evart Madlopha, threatened to release the patients.


The over 500 nurses flooded the Mbabane streets to petition government over its failure to address them on the issue of cost of living adjustment (CoLA).
As the President of the organisation Bheki Mamba was handing over the petition to Madlopha, some of the nurses said: “We’ll release patients at the psychiatric centre if government does not engage us on our grievances.”


Fear


The nurses said this was to be the next step for them following that they were now living in fear of the patients at the psychiatric centre.
They said some of their patients had become violent as there was no medication to calm them down.


On this, the nurses’ president said opening the gates and letting the patients loose was the only solution left for his cadre as the lack of medication had made the patients violent and a danger to themselves, other patients and the nurses.
“Without the medication, newly admitted patients become extremely violent. They become violent towards the nurses and the other patients.”


Mamba further said this was not merely abusing the patients and coercing government to address their demands; but it was the only way to deal with them.
He said the release of the patients, who are supposedly violent, would be automatic.

Mamba said this would not be the first time such  happened in the country. 
“The gates were once opened and the patients from the psychiatric centre literally filled up the towns. They were only brought back by the police to the hospital when medication had been bought by government.”


Further, Mamba said as nurses, they were in pain and feeling for the nation as there were around 800 patients that were relying on medication prescribed by psychiatrists at the national hospital.


He said the patients that were colleting their medication while at home were more dangerous to the people they resided with.
“You may be staying with your relative and assuming all is well; but, because the patient is not getting his medication anymore, they may become violent and attack family members.”


To this, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Simon Zwane, said the ministry was yet to get a formal report on the challenges faced at the National Psychiatric Centre. “I think they will report it formally and we’ll deal with it then,” Dr Zwane said.


Also, the release of the psychiatric centre patients will pose a danger to the public in terms of safety, if they are as violent as described by the SWADNU president. Assigned to deal with the security of the nation are members of the Royal Eswatini Police Services (REPS).


To the proposed action by the nurses, Chief Police Information and Communication Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati said nurses were guided by a code of conduct and ethics.


Police


Vilakati said given that, she was skeptical that the situation would reach such levels where patients at the National Psychiatric Centre shall be released by the nurses. However, should it happen, the nation should fear not as the police were there to instill order and protect the citizenry.
According to mental health offered by WebMD, when a person is faced with a hostile or aggressive patient, be they psychotic or otherwise, the appropriate course of action is to get out of the situation calmly and quickly. 

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