Public Defender's Statement on Processes Underway in Area of Mental Health
The Public Defender echoes the changes in the methodology of mental health funding carried out by the Government’s Decree of 2017 on the Approval of Health Care State Programs. According to reports, within the framework of the given model of funding, the part of service providers, namely multi-profile medical institutions, refuses to participate in the state program and render relevant services.
On February 8, 2017, the authorized representatives of the Public Defender's Office carried out special monitoring in the Mental Health and Drug Abuse Prevention Center and Tbilisi Mental Health Center. The aim of the monitoring was to assess the events developed as a result of the introduction of the new rules of financing.
It should be noted that after the changes made in the funding methodology, since January 2017 the number of patients has increased by about one-third after general-profile hospitals refused to render psychiatric aid. In particular, the Mental Health and Drug Abuse Prevention Center was applied by 173 patients from January 1, 2017 through February 7, 2017; 152 out of them were hospitalized.
The number of patients has increased in the Tbilisi Mental Health Center as well, however, the institution, which is designed for 225 beds, has not faced any essential problem.
The monitoring showed that at this stage, the changes in the funding methodology have not affected the supply of these two specific hospitals, but there are no resources for improvement either. As it turned out, infrastructure problems have not been eliminated in the mentioned institutions after the monitoring carried out by the Public Defender's Special Prevention Group in October-November 2015. In addition, the personnel of the institutions explain that it will be necessary to optimize costs due to the new form of funding, which may affect the condition of the patients and the staff.
The Public Defender constantly emphasizes that it is necessary to increase funding of mental health, to change the funding methodology, to provide sufficient number of qualified personnel and improve the living conditions in the facilities in order to improve the quality of psychiatric care; In addition, it is necessary to promote community-based services and delivery of psychiatric care at general hospitals for the implementation of the idea of de-institutionalization in compliance with the state policy documents.
Unfortunately, the situation is still difficult in the field of mental health, which requires immediate response. The Public Defender calls on the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs and all interested parties to hold a dialogue in order to find a reasonable solution to the problem.