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HRB finds no major changes in psychiatric inpatient census 2019

A total of 2,308 patients were resident in Irish psychiatric units and hospitals on Census night (31 March 2019) according to the latest report from the Health Research Board (HRB). This represents a decrease of 100 patients since the last Census in 2016.  

Key findings 


  • 2,308 admissions, down 100 since 2016
  • More than half were men (55%)
  • One in three was over 65 years of age
  • Three in five were single
  • A third had been in hospital for a year or more on census night
  • One in six were involuntary patients, no change since 2016
  • Main diagnosis was Schizophrenia (one in three people), followed by depressive disorders (one in six)

Under 18s 

  • 83 admissions; with 78 in child and adolescent units and five in adult units
  • 34 were aged 15 years or younger
  • 7 in 10 were girls
  • The main diagnosis was depressive disorders (just over one in three), followed by eating disorders (one in six) 

According to Antoinette Daly, Research Officer at the HRB, 
‘This report allows us to see how many people are using in-patient services at a point in time. While there are relatively small changes since the last Census in 2016, the Health Research Boards long-term census data show changing patterns and trends which are more pronounced over the last ten years, which is useful for understanding where needs are emerging and for planning services.’

Trends over past ten years

While the number of patients under 18 years of age is small, the figure has doubled from 43 in 2010, to 83 in 2019, this could reflect a real increase in demand for beds, however it also correlates with an increase in the number of beds for this group.

There has been 18% decline in patient numbers since 2010 which could reflect shorter lengths of stay.

Where people are treated has also changed over the last decade.  The proportion of patients resident in psychiatric hospitals or continuing care units continued to fall, while the proportion resident in general hospital psychiatric units continued to rise.  Those resident in independent/private and private charitable centres also continued to rise in the last ten-year period.

This report is the latest in a series of censuses first carried out in 1963 by the Health Research Board. The Irish Psychiatric Unit and Hospital Census is currently carried out every three years.  

You can read Irish Psychiatric Unit and Hospital Census 2019 - main findings on the publications page of the HRB website.