Psychiatric centre eavesdrops patients

Psychiatric centre eavesdrops patients
Conversations between patients and visitors are routinely eavesdropped at the centre.© Belga

At the Zelzate Psychiatric Centre (East Flanders), patients’ conversations in the most secure wing are often eavesdropped. The issue emerges from a report by the Flemish Care Inspectorate, echoed by De Morgen, on Tuesday. Conversations with loved ones, mediators and lawyers are monitored in this way.

The Flemish Care Inspectorate attended on site after an article by the Flemish daily newspaper appeared in April. It was shown that the number of people isolated in the Levanta wing, a medico-legal unit within Zelzate Psychiatric Centre, was very high. A total lack of intimacy was also uncovered. Various sources instanced surveillance cameras and recordings in private rooms, where patients meet their families.

The clinic had confirmed the presence of cameras within visiting areas. That having been said, the Chief Medical Officer at the centre denied the audio recordings were made.

The report by the Flemish Care Inspectorate now refutes these assertions. Care providers, who the inspectors met, acknowledged that audio recordings were always used for “security reasons”. The report stipulates, “Conversations between patients and visitors can be eavesdropped and routinely are.”

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