French psychiatric hospital comes under state inspection again

June 7, 2013

The Sainte Marie psychiatric hospital in Nice is facing renewed drama this year as the French ministry for health and social welfare calls for another inquiry into the private establishment. Having struggled with a slashed financial budget and staff cuts over the last few years, Sainte Marie is now up against further difficulties as doctors abandon their posts amidst claims that the extra pressure and restructuring plans are putting patients at risk.

The ministry for health and social welfare has called on IGAS, the General Inspection Department for Social Affairs, to begin a new study into practices and operations at the hospital.

Previous similar inquiries have reportedly admonished the privately funded hospital for its dilapidated buildings, failures to meet adequate surveillance standards and its poor organisation of treatment units.

Sainte Marie hit national headlines last year when two patients receiving psychiatric treatment at the hospital escaped in less than a fortnight. At the time, union representative Philippe Davy blamed the lagging safety record on staff being overworked.

“When you have two carers looking after over 20 patients, it is hard to keep security at the top of your list,” Davy told local newspaper Nice Matin in the aftermath of the breakouts.

IGAS is expected to begin its latest inquiry in June, with conclusions due to be revealed before the end of summer.

In early May, nine doctors reportedly walked out in protest ahead of the imminent changes to the hospital’s organisational structure and operations.

The Sainte Marie hospital is part of the larger Association Hopitaliere Sainte Marie, which owns four other units throughout southern and central France. The Nice establishment is the only part of the organisation currently under investigation.

Source: "Psychiatric hospital back under inquiry," Elsa Carpenter, The Riviera Times, May 23, 2013.


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