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"We have no beds ..."

An enquiry into the availability and use of acute psychiatric beds in the Eastern Health Board region

The aim of this study was to examine the availability and utilisation of acute psychiatric beds in the Eastern Health Board area.  The study reported a number of important conclusions including;

  • A significant percentage of acute beds were used for non-acute purposes
  • 91,000 bed days were taken up through inappropriate occupancy over a one year period
  • The high level of inappropriate occupancy was judged largely due to the lack of some services and the inadequate provision of others
  • There was a shortage of day hospital places and a difficulty in defining the function of existing day hospitals
  • Community based crisis intervention services were generally unavailable with a limited number of domiciliary and home-care services for assessment, treatment and intervention.

The study concluded that the problems with the availability of psychiatric beds were largely due to inappropriate occupancy, rather than inappropriate admissions.  The current level of psychiatric bed provision is sufficient if the range of community support services (particularly residential services) is extended considerably.