n South African Journal of Psychiatry - An overview of the State Employed Special Interest Group (SESIG) of the South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP) from 2000 - 2012

Volume 18, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1608-9685
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6786



The State Employed Special Interest Group (SESIG) of the South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP) was established in Durban during the national congress in September 2000. Issues of concern at the time included: suboptimal physical conditions in state hospitals and clinics; stalling of the essential drug list (EDL) review process; and understaffing and difficulties in recruiting and retaining mental health medical personnel in the state sector. During the past 2 years, attention was given to liaising with the South African Medical Association (SAMA) as a medical labour organisation; standards for psychiatric inpatient structures, services and care; and scheduling a national SESIG strategic workshop.

A quantitative retrospective review of the demographic and occupational profile of SESIG's members, as captured by the SASOP database of current and potential members, was performed. The investigation included a review of the policies and processes by which strategic activities, priorities and measures for progress were identified within the different areas of SESIG's mandate.
In 2007, 38% (144) of the potential total number of state-employed psychiatrists (380) were paid-up SESIG members; and 53% (202) of the potential total number (378) in 2011. The Eastern Cape, Free State and Northern Gauteng subgroups had the biggest percentage of members per region in 2007, which changed in 2011 to Northern Gauteng, Western Cape and Eastern Cape. In 2011, 40% of the total membership comprised psychiatric registrars. Presentations and discussions at the first national strategic meeting of state-employed psychiatrists in 2012 covered: the scope of state sector practice; pertinent policies for state practice; planning per region; teaching and research; accepted principles for care; and strategic mobilisation (details in the supplement of this issue of the ).
Eleven position statements were formulated to guide SASOP/SESIG activities during 2012 - 2014, relative to: national mental health policy; psychiatry and mental health; infrastructure and human resources; standard treatment guidelines and EDL; HIV in children and adults; substance abuse and addiction; community psychiatry and referral levels; recovery and re-integration; culture, mental health and psychiatry; the specialty status of South African psychiatry; and forensic psychiatry.

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