Council of Europe criticises Bulgaria for its treatment of vulnerable people

“The deplorable shortage of staff in social care homes and psychiatric hospitals is a result of decades of neglect and lack of support from the Bulgarian authorities”, the report says. [Shutterstock / R R]

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture said in a report that it “strongly criticises” the “persistent failure” of the Bulgarian authorities to address grave problems in social care institutions and psychiatric hospitals. It urges Bulgaria to improve the situation quickly and radically change the approach to providing mental health care and institutional social care.

“Despite reiterated recommendations, persons with psychiatric disorders and learning disabilities in such homes can still be found abandoned in dirty dormitories, on dirty beds, surrounded by an all-pervading nauseating stench of urine and covered in flies crawling over them“, the Committee says in its report.

Since 1995, during 14 visits to Bulgaria, the Committee (CPT) delegations visited 10 out of 12 Bulgarian state psychiatric hospitals and 16 social care institutions for persons with psychiatric disorders and learning disabilities.

For more than 25 years now, the CPT has consistently expressed its concern regarding the treatment, conditions, and legal safeguards offered to social care residents and patients with psychiatric disorders. However,  the responses of the Bulgarian authorities suggest that little or no progress has been achieved during that time.

“The deplorable shortage of staff in social care homes and psychiatric hospitals is a result of decades of neglect and lack of support from the Bulgarian authorities”, the report says.

It concluded that the management of these institutions had been left to struggle with insufficient human resources and without adequate funding, failing to provide vulnerable people with “the dignity they deserve, as well as the human contact, comfort, care, and assistance they require”.

(Krassen Nikolov | EURACTIV.bg)

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