The British Journal of Psychiatry


Duration of stay for unselected admissions to an acute psychiatric ward was reduced to an average of 11 days. The clinical methods by which this was achieved are described. Comparing patients randomly allocated to this experimental ward and other admission wards: (i) the readmission rate to the experimental ward was higher but readmissions were briefer so that total in-patient experience per patient over the course of one year remained substantially lower; (ii) symptom levels and burden on the family had improved equally at three weeks and at four months after discharge; (iii) experimental ward patients made fewer demands on their general practitioners and reported fewer parasuicides. Beds can be released for other purposes in this way.