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Objectives: The objective of this research was to determine regional aspects (such as clinical, geographic and socio-demographic) influencing the use of public sector long-term psychiatric services in the Eastern Cape. This is important in improving service delivery, to assist policy developers with evidence-based research and in providing equitable and efficient resource utilisation.
Methodology: A situational analysis of Tower Psychiatric Hospital and Psychosocial Rehabilitation Centre (TPHPRC) in the Eastern Cape was conducted. Patient administrative data were utilised to determine geographic origin, date and age at admission, gender and diagnosis as of December 2015. The number of admissions from each region for the years 2010–2015 was also extracted from these data.
Results: As of December 2015, there were a total of 390 patients at TPHPRC. Of these, 87% were male patients. The average age at admission for male and female patients was 36 years and 44 years, respectively. Of the patients, 53% originated from the western regions and 57% of female patients presented with a dual diagnosis. The highest number of admissions was in 2015, with the majority originating from Port Elizabeth.
Conclusion: Despite higher access to public psychiatric care in the western region, the majority of patients originated from there. Contributing factors to this include diagnoses, insufficient bed numbers and the absence of admission criteria and referral pathways. It is recommended that the provincial Department of Health set up a task team to determine a standardised working framework for all public sector psychiatric institutions. This should be informed by national policies, legislation and provincial norms and indicators.