Psychiatric patients to go to rehab

Under government plans to gradually close down all psychiatric hospitals, 65 new rehabilitation centers have been created over the past two years to prepare patients with mental problems to be released into the community, Deputy Health Minister Elpida Tsouri said yesterday. Speaking at a World Health Organization conference on mental health policies in southern and southeastern Europe, Tsouri said that, so far, 600 of the 3,500 chronically mentally ill patients in Greek institutions have been moved into rehabilitation centers. Furthermore, psychiatric health units have been set up in general hospitals, mental health centers and day centers. In October, the ministry had originally announced plans to relocate all psychiatric patients to select hostels and apartments by 2010. But yesterday, Tsouri said the intention was to have all psychiatric hospitals closed by 2015. The first stage, she said, would be to have four of the eight state psychiatric hospitals closed down by 2006. At the same time, beds in the remaining four institutions should be reduced by 40-50 percent.

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