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Press Release

Press release

Psychiatric inpatient admissions continue to fall

18 December 2007

There were 20,288 admissions to Irish psychiatric units and hospitals during 2006. This is 965 fewer than in 2005, which represents a decrease of 4.7%. A total of 5,601 people were admitted for the first time, but re-admissions accounted for seven out of every ten admissions. The Health Research Board will publish the full annual report Activities of Irish Psychiatric Units and Hospitals 2006.

There were 20,288 admissions to Irish psychiatric units and hospitals during 2006. This is 965 fewer than in 2005, which represents a decrease of 4.7%. A total of 5,601 people were admitted for the first time, but re-admissions accounted for seven out of every ten admissions. The Health Research Board will publish the full annual report Activities of Irish Psychiatric Units and Hospitals 2006 today.

The core findings of the report revealed that:
  • Males account for just over half of all admissions (51%) and first admissions (55%).
  • In terms of age:People in the 45-54 year age group were most likely to be admitted, with a rate of 763.1 per 100,000 of the population.
  • The 18-19 year age group had the highest rate of first admissions (194.7 per 100,000).
  • People who were divorced had the highest rate of all admissions (722.3 per 100,000) and first admissions (179.7 per 100,000).
  • In keeping with the pattern of previous years, a socio-economic breakdown of figures shows that the unskilled occupational group had the highest rate of all admissions (1,050.0 per 100,000) and first admissions (212.6 per 100,000).
In terms of diagnosis
  • Depressive disorders accounted for almost 1 in 3 of all admissions.
  • Schizophrenia accounted for 1 in 5 admissions.
  • Alcoholic disorders accounted for 1 in every 8 admissions.
  • Non-voluntary admissions accounted for 11% of all admissions.  
Young people (under 18 years of age)  
  • A total of 398 under 18s were admitted during the year and 271 of these were first admissions. Males accounted for just over half of all admissions and first admissions.
  • Age: More than 8 out of every ten (84%) children admitted were between 15-17 years old.
  • 16% were aged between 6 and 14 years of age.  

Main Diagnosis

  • Depressive disorders were the reason that 3 in 10 (30%) were admitted.
  • Schizophrenia was reported by 1 in every 10 (10%) admitted.
  • 8% had neuroses.
  • 8% were diagnosed with childhood or adolescent behavioural and emotional disorders.  
  • The average length of stay for children and adolescents admitted and then discharged in 2006 was 23.2 days.
  • 4 in ten children (39%) remained for less than one week.
  • Almost 1 in every 8 (14%) were discharged within 1-2 weeks.
  • 2 in every 10 (20%) were discharged in less than one month.
  • Almost 1 in 3 (27%) remained for more than one month.
  • Almost 1 in 16 or 6% who were admitted during 2006 were not discharged in the same year.

The average length of stay across all admissions was 27.5 days. The researchers noted an increasing trend towards shorter periods of inpatient care. ?We have seen this trend develop over the past ten years?, says Dr Walsh. ?Almost half of discharges occurred within two weeks of patients being admitted, nearly seven in ten were discharged within 4 weeks and more than 9 out of 10 people were discharged within three months of being admitted. Shorter periods of inpatient care could be attributed to the increased provision of community care alternatives to inpatient treatment',he said.

Public versus private services

The proportion of admissions to general hospital psychiatric units has increased from 44% in 2003 to 50% in 2006, with a corresponding decrease in the proportion of admissions to public psychiatric hospitals - from 38% in 2003 to 32% in 2006.

Almost one-third of all admissions to general hospital psychiatric units (32%) and to private hospitals (30%) were diagnosed with depressive disorders compared with 25% in psychiatric hospitals. Over one-fifth of admissions to both general hospital psychiatric units and psychiatric hospitals had a diagnosis of schizophrenia in contrast to 8% of admissions to private hospitals. There is a stark contrast in admissions relating to alcohol disorders, one-fifth of admissions to private hospitals are linked to alcohol disorders compared with 11% to general hospitals units and 14% to psychiatric hospitals.

Private hospitals have the highest average length of stay, at 34.7 days. Just over half of all discharges from general hospital psychiatric units and psychiatric hospitals occurred within two weeks of admission compared with one quarter of discharges from private hospitals for the same period. According to the authors, this reflects the fact that private hospitals do not have community care alternatives. However, the proportion of re-admissions to private hospitals was slightly lower (67%) than that to general hospital psychiatric units (72%) or to psychiatric hospitals (76%).

Looking at differences in individual catchment areas, there was a four-fold difference in all admission rates between Roscommon Mental Health catchment area, which had the highest rate at 607.9 and Cavan/Monaghan Mental Health Catchment area, which had the lowest rate at 157.4. The Health Research Board is responsible for maintaining all national statistics on Psychiatric Care.

Activities of Irish Psychiatric Services 2006 presents administrative, demographic, social and medical information on all admissions, discharges and deaths in every inpatient facility, public and private, in the State.

Copies of the report are available online at www.hrb.ie/publications. For a hard copy of the report, please contact the Mental Health Research Unit on +353 1 2345148 or email mhru@hrb.ie.

For more information contact:
Gillian Markey, Communications Manager
Health Research Board
m 00353 87 2288514
t 00353 1 2345103
e gmarkey(at)hrb.ie 

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