Statement by Department of Health, Western Cape, following newspaper reports on Conditions in Ward 20 (Maximum-Security Ward) of Valkenberg Hospital | Western Cape Government

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Statement by Department of Health, Western Cape, following newspaper reports on Conditions in Ward 20 (Maximum-Security Ward) of Valkenberg Hospital

12 May 2004
Following reports in The Cape Times of 10 May 2004 and Die Burger of 12 May 2004, I wish to clarify the situation regarding conditions in Ward 20, the Maximum Security Ward of Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital.

Accompanied by senior managers of the Department of Health, I spent several hours in Ward 20 on the 4th of February 2004 to make a personal assessment of conditions there. The group I was with included managers from Health's Head Office and Valkenberg Hospital. Professor Sean Kalisky was among the group.

Following my site visit, I raised the matter at the Departmental Executive Committee meeting on 15 March 2004. It was agreed that, notwithstanding numerous other priorities, the following actions be taken:

  1. That repairs, painting and other minor improvements be made as soon as possible to improve the physical conditions. These were scheduled to take place from 20 May 2004, but I understand that they may take place sooner.
  2. That money be reallocated from other projects to enable more substantial improvements to be made to Ward 20. Subsequently, just over R3 million was allocated for this purpose. Before building works can start, tender documents have to be completed and several other processes have to be followed. The matter is currently being attended to by the Department of Transport and PublicWorks.
  3. That planning continue for the extensive upgrading of Valkenberg Hospital over the long term. This would include the establishment of the Forensic Village that has been referred to in the mass media. In current monetary terms, this project has a capital requirement of around R100 million. Completion of this very-big project is dependent upon funding from the National Treasury under the Hospital Revitalization Project.

In the meantime, I have discussed this issue with Minister Pierre Uys. Having been made aware of the issues, Minister Uys has indicated that he will visit Ward 20 on 14 May 2004 to familiarise himself first hand with conditions at Ward 20. He has also indicated support for the Department's handling of the matter and will do what he can to facilitate the processes.

Issued by: Professor Craig Househam, Head of Health in the Western Cape
Date: 13 May 2004
For release: Immediate
Enquiries: Vernon de Vries, Director; Communication, Tel: 021 483 3235

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