Patients ‘Depressed’ Over Shortage of Psychiatrists

SHARJAH - Shortage of psychiatrists at the only government psychiatric clinic in Sharjah has put the patients in a quandary as some of them are being turned away and some others told to repeat the last prescription, whenever that was issued.

Kuwaiti Hospital has been lacking in mental health services for months after the head of the department resigned and another psychiatrist went on long leave for higher studies.

A psychiatrist from Dubai’s Al Amal Hospital has been commissioned by the hospital, but he is available only two days a week, sources told Khaleej Times.

Even this specialist, at times, is not available regularly as he has to travel overseas on various assignments.

When the specialist from Al Amal Hospital, which is under the Ministry of Health (MoH), is not present, some patients are turned away while some are issued prescriptions by General Practitioner’s in the medical outpatient department (OPD), hospitalsources and patients said.

Indian national Joseph told Khaleej Times that his friend Maria (both names changed), who was suffering from depression and related problems, returned more depressed from the hospital last Sunday since she could not meet a psychiatrist.

“Instead, she was given a prescription, supposedly by a general practitioner in the medical department. She had the same experience last time when she went to the hospital about two months ago. This time I had gone with her and found out that there was not even a consultation done when she actually wanted some counselling.”

He said the nurse had taken Maria’s file inside the medical OPD and came out with the prescription of the same pills that she has been taking.

“She was advised to continue the same medication for two months. In fact, the doctor who prescribed the medicine did not know the proper dose. Maria felt more dejected as she couldn’t share her problems with a doctor and seek some advice. Patients go to government hospitals for affordable services. What is the point of her spending Dh50 for consultation when she can’t even see who prescribed her the medicine?” questioned Joseph.

To check out the discrepancy, this reporter visited the hospital on Monday, pretending to be a patient. A nurse told this reporter that the clinic was not accepting emergency cases, and that patients were being referred toAl Amal Hospital.

“We can give you an appointment only on Wednesday and Thursday. There is no doctor on other days.”

On Wednesday, however, the deputed doctor was away attending a medical conference in Egypt, following which patients were declined appointment.

The Director of Kuwaiti Hospital, Dr Yousif Al Serkal, agreed that the outpatient clinic was now being run with the help of a psychiatrist from Al Amal Hospital on a shared basis. However, he declined to comment further.

Minister of Health Humaid Mohammed Obaid Al Qutami said he was not aware of the matter and promised to look into it.

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