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Overdue paediatric psychiatry ward launched in Ljubljana

19.02.2019 11:04
Category: work and news

A ward for intensive psychiatric treatment of children and adolescents was launched in Ljubljana on Tuesday, with first patients to be admitted on 1 March. So far, children and youth with mental disorders have been treated at psychiatric ward for adults, although separately from them.

The ward, which also features a closed unit for youth with psychotic disorders, is located at the University Psychiatric Clinic at Ljubljana's UKC hospital.

It can accommodate up to 10 patients, and some 120 patients are expected to be admitted annually, the clinic's director general, Bojan Zalar, said at the opening.

The EUR 840,000 project of the new ward was concluded a year and a half ago but could not be launched due to a shortage of paediatric psychiatrists.

Zalar said there were currently some 30 paediatric psychiatrists in Slovenia, but probably three times as many would be needed to meet the European standards.

At the moment the ward has four child psychiatrists and expects to get one more, but to provide a 24-hour service smoothly, at least 15 would be needed.

Still, since no new employments are planned, Zalar explained the shortage would be addressed by hiring specialist registrars. Eight nurses have already been employed.

Zalar fears that the shortage of staff could eventually result in the ward's closure.

However, Human Rights Ombudsman Vlasta Nussdorfer warned that this should never happen.

"The ward is now open and it should never be closed. This is a responsibility of the government, the Health Ministry, of all those who will have to provide the money and staff," she said as she addressed the event.

Nussdorfer had urged authorities many times to open a special ward for children and youth with mental disorders, arguing that treating them at wards for adults was a violation of human rights.

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