The psychiatry of old age has come to occupy an increasingly prominent role in psychiatry, because of demographic trends, and also because of service developments. About a third of referrals to most psychiatric services are for the over-65s and a high proportion of beds are occupied by this age group. Recently the training recommendations for senior registrars in the psychiatry of old age have been revised and clarified (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1989) and old age psychiatry is now recognised as a specialty within psychiatry. Nevertheless there is continued concern about the training opportunities available in this field (Wattis, 1988), reports of difficulties in filling consultant posts, and evidence that the present guidelines for consultant staffing levels are inadequate (Ballinger et al, 1989). It has recently been recommended that one-third of senior registrar posts in general and old age psychiatry should be assigned to the psychiatry of old age (Sims, 1990).