Concern over poor facilities for young people with mental illness

A shortage of specialist beds means young people with mental
health problems have been  admitted to hospital wards that fail to
meet their needs, a study led by the Royal College of Psychiatrists
has found.

A survey of nine health authorities in England and Wales found
there were 54 patients aged under 18 staying on general psychiatric
wards and paediatric wards. Over half of the admissions were deemed
inappropriate by psychiatrists and paediatricians, but the patients
were admitted either because there was no suitable facility
available or the suitable facility was full or had refused the

The authors of the report said the number of cases studied was low
and so projections should be viewed with caution. However, they
said the findings suggested a shortage of beds in child and
adolescent inpatient psychiatric units in England and Wales – a
conclusion supported by child and adolescent psychiatrists surveyed
for the research.

The study examined the use of non specialist wards for young people
with a mental disorder. The findings suggest more than a third of
young people admitted for a mental illness are admitted to a
general psychiatric or paediatric ward.

If the admission of young people to these settings is to continue
then specialist skills need to be developed in the units caring for
them, said the researchers.  If the admissions are to be avoided
then further investment in specialist inpatient care is needed and
the formulation of alternatives to admission have to be found, they

‘The inappropriate admission of young people with mental disorder
to adult psychiatric wards and paediatric wards: cross sectional
study of six months activity.’

The full paper can be viewed at

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