Objectives: The most recent census of psychiatric inpatients (Daly and Walsh, 2006) examined the decline of the long-stay population (both new and old long-stay) from 1963 to 2006. The aim of the present study was to identify new long-stay patients (patients in hospital between one and five years) in the 2006 psychiatric in-patient census and follow them up one year later to determine the number remaining as inpatients, ie. not having been discharged
Methods: New long-stay patients were extracted from the 2006 psychiatric inpatient census data base and were followed up one year later.
Results: Sixty-eight per cent (315/460) of new longstay patients on 31/03/06 were still resident in units and hospitals one year later on 31/03/07, the majority in psychiatric hospitals Forty-two per cent (133/315) of patients had a primary diagnosis of schizophrenia, 13% (40/315) of depressive disorder, 11% (33/315) of organic mental disorder and 8% of intellectual disability (24/315). The number of new long-stay patients discharged or who died showed a sharp decline on previous years.
Conclusions: Unless current services are improved and extended as advocated in A Vision for Change, it will be a number of years before this population leaves psychiatric hospitals and such hospitals can close because of the lack of suitable alternatives. In accordance with policy recommendations, the continuing requirement for the development of specialised rehabilitation services to cater for the broad needs of those who remain in psychiatric hospitals is of the utmost importance.