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Psychiatric day care - an underused option?

The purposes and functions of psychiatric day hospitals and day centres: a study in two health boards

This report studied day care in two health boards and suggested that if day hospitals treated acutely ill patients exclusively, inpatient admission would become unnecessary for a proportion of patients and the length of stay of a significant number of acute admissions to inpatient care would be appreciably reduced.

The report findings showed that:

  • Care was often delivered in premises that were inadequate in size, design and decoration
  • Some served a variety of purposes such as also providing out-patient clinics, which compromised their primary role
  • Few of the patients attending day hospitals suffered from acute illness and to that extent day hospitals were not substituting for acute inpatient care
  • Many day hospital patients were more appropriate for day centre care and were using day hospital places because of a shortage of day centre places
  • Most day hospitals were not served by a multidisciplinary team and consultant psychiatrists spent limited time in day hospitals
  • Many professionals were unclear as to the purposes and functions of a day hospital and as to which patients should be most appropriately treated there.

A full copy of the report is available from publications section of the HRB website at