A REVIEW is to get under way into the manner in which community mental health personnel monitor persons who are mentally ill to avoid cases of violent attacks.
Chief medical officer Dr Eva Lewis-Fuller said the ratio of mentally ill patients to staff is also of concern and needs to be addressed.
She was, however, not able to disclose the figures, which would represent the shortfall.
Lewis-Fuller's comments come days after a man, reportedly of unsound mind, entered the Malvern Police Station in St Elizabeth, surprised police personnel there, disarmed and shot Woman District Constable Nadine Mills.
"Prevention is what the focus will be to prevent them getting to this stage, and so closer monitoring and more frequent visits and medication compliance are the kinds of things that the ministry will have to look at," she said.
"We have a shortage of staff in some areas. We could have a better staff-to-patient ratio. We would love to improve it, but not everybody loves to go into that field," she continued.
Lewis-Fuller added that the ministry has teams which monitor the patients by keeping abreast of their status and ensuring they are taking their medications, but it has reached a stage where even the mental health professionals are in danger.
"In a recent incident, two of our staff members were injured by a mentally ill person who they went to assist when called by family members. So we are going to have to look at how we manage these kinds of cases," she argued.
Turning her attention to the policewoman who was injured, Lewis-Fuller said it was unfortunate.
"We empathise with that police lady and we wish her a speedy recovery. I will be seeking to get a more detailed report from the parish, then we will take it from there," she said.
Psychiatrist Wendel Abel said the mental health services should be more responsive, and the public education programme should also be strengthened.
"We need to work with the families to ensure that they understand the illness, and that they can detect early warning signs so that they can take persons for the necessary treatment.
He added: "We need to also reorganise the Bellevue Hospital, where a significant part of the mental health budget goes, and use more of the resources to develop community mental health services."