Emergency centers for mentally ill

The health ministry has decided to establish 24-hour emergency medical centers for the mentally ill throughout the nation, ministry officials said Sunday.

The ministry has asked the Finance Ministry to allocate 63.4 billion yen in fiscal 2005 to establish the centers and plans to secure 1,200 beds for the patients over five years, the officials said.

The medical centers will be available only for patients who need emergency care and are in serious condition, they said.

Chiba Prefecture has a well-known medical center dedicated for the mentally ill, but most prefectures do not have such facilities due to budgetary restraints.

Medical institutions have called for the establishment of such medical centers because they cannot provide sufficient services for the mentally ill even if they were to accept such patients in emergency cases.