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(DF) Council of Europe Issues New Reporton Bulgarian Psychiatric and Social Care Institutions

December 2 (BTA correspondent Nikolay Jeliazkov) – The Council of Europe’s anti-torture Committee (CPT) on Wednesday unveiled its latest report on the state of psychiatric and social care institutions in Bulgaria. The Committee has expressed grave concern that many of its long-standing recommendations concerning the treatment, conditions and legal safeguards offered to psychiatric patients and residents of social care institutions remain unimplemented. In August, a CPT’s delegation visited St Ivan Rilski State Psychiatric Hospital, Tsarev Brod State Psychiatric Hospital, Byala State Psychiatric Hospital, and the social care homes in Kudelin, Samuil and Govezhda. According to the report, in all hospitals and social care homes visited, the delegation received allegations of ill-treatment of patients and residents by staff. Sticks matching descriptions given by residents were found by the delegation in staff offices in three establishments. As regards living conditions, the Committee noted that some renovation has occurred and that the numbers of nurses and orderlies are totally insufficient. Also, a shameful practice of chaining patients to their beds is totally unacceptable and must be immediately discontinued, the Committee insisted. The CPT recommends that the Bulgarian authorities review the total ban on visits to patients in psychiatric hospitals instituted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and take steps to ensure that patients can receive such visits in safe conditions, respectful of physical distancing and personal protective equipment requirements. Moreover, the Committee recommends the institution of a State-funded regime of regular PCR testing of all staff. The Committee strongly supports the Bulgarian authorities’ plan to close a number of social care establishments by 2022 and develop appropriate community care facilities. *** In remarks about the report made to journalists on Wednesday Labour Minister Denitsa Sacheva (pictured) said that a total of 28 social care homes will be closed. “We were alerted by the international experts as early as in the summer. Unfortunately, there are such care homes, where conditions are utterly unacceptable,” she said. The Minister added that the Labour Ministry and the Supreme Administrative Prosecutor’s Office had carried out preemptive checks in over 25 institutions and 28 will be closed. She also said that staff have not been trained to work to meet the needs of the residents. The prosecution will conduct more checks. RY,NV/PP /DT/