Mental patients run wild

2009-02-16 00:00

Doctors and nurses at Northdale Hospital are working in fear of psychiatric patients who prowl the hospital corridors half naked, breaking ward doors and terrorising staff and other patients.

Traumatised staff and patients have told The Witness that mental patients are not restricted to their ward, but have free access to other wards.

Recently, a female doctor was attacked by a psychiatric patient who also made sexual advances to pregnant women in the maternity ward.

According to witnesses, the doctor was doing routine checks on patients when the man entered the ward and grabbed her.

“The man stormed into the ward, broke down doors and attacked the doctor and female patients.” The docmanaged to free herself after a scuffle.

A nurse who spoke on condition of anonymity said patients ran in all directions. “He was only wearing the hospital gown and his manhood was dangling in the open. Everybody was scared. Patients ran for safety. It was like a nightmare.”

While the man was chasing the patients, nurses called security guards, but the man had left the ward by the time a guard arrived.

According to staff, mental patients roam the hospital day and night unsupervised. They said patients can go anywhere at any time. “They even walk across the road to shops.”

Staff criticised the guards for failing to respond promptly. “By the time the guard arrives in the ward, the damage would have been done. They take too long to respond, and we don’t feel safe,” said one of the nurses.

Staff said the Health Department have ignored their concerns regarding mental patients at the hospital. Previously, staff members accused management of failing to adhere to regulations.

They said the law states that mental patients can be kept up to 72 hours at the hospital, but authorities often ignore that rule.

A nurse said caring for mental patients requires specialised skills. “We don’t have specialised personnel to deal with mental patients, but we always have them and they are kept beyond the stipulated period.”

In 2007 a mental patient attacked a nurse and patients, making sexual advances in a post-natal ward. A traumatised nurse had to take special leave following the incident, and a 16-year-old patient checked out of the hospital leaving her baby behind because she was terrified after seeing a mental patient making sexual advances towards others in the maternity ward.

In another incident, a 23-year-old mental patient was found hanged in a hospital bathroom early last year.

In August 2008, a mental patient set fire to his mattress.

KZN Health Department spokesman Leon Mbangwa had failed by the close of business yesterday to respond to questions sent to him on Friday last week.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.