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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Psychiatric patients occupy around 15% of total NHS bed days

Embargoed until 05 June 2009

Patients with psychiatric disorders occupy around 15% of total bed days in the NHS - and have a longer length of stay than people with other medical conditions.

Psychiatrists Dr Parvathy Pillay and Dr Joanna Moncrieff, from Mascalls Park Hospital in London, analysed hospital episode data for all NHS trusts in England between 1998 and 2008. They present their findings today at the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ 2009 Annual Meeting in Liverpool.

Schizophrenia and mood disorders were among the top ten conditions in terms of number of bed days occupied over the time period.

In the 2007-08 financial year, people with schizophrenia occupied a total of 2.14 million bed days, and were the second largest diagnostic category after stroke. Mood disorders occupied 1.42 million days, and were the seventh largest.

When all psychiatric conditions were added together, they accounted for around 15% of the total number of days in which NHS beds were occupied. The maximum was 15.8% in 2004-05 and minimum 13.7% in 2007-08.

The researchers also examined which conditions had the longest lengths of stay. They found that eight of the ten conditions with the longest lengths of stay were psychiatric conditions.

Lead researcher Dr Parvathy Pillay said: “The number of psychiatric inpatient beds in England has fallen dramatically since the 1980s, and further reductions to the number of beds are planned in many areas across the country.

“However, our analysis shows that people with psychiatric disorders occupy a large proportion of NHS beds and have a longer length of stay compared with other medical conditions. This needs to be taken into consideration when further reductions in psychiatric bed numbers are considered.”

For further information, please contact:
Sarah Nevins
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Telephone: 020 3701 2543
Claire McLoughlin
Media & Communications Manager 
Telephone: 020 3701 2544
Out of hours contact number: 07860 755896



Annual Meeting of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, BT Convention Centre, Liverpool, 2 -5 June 2009


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