Did Wellington have too many acute psychiatric beds in 1996?
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AIMS: (1) To establish whether, as believed by local clinicians, there is a shortage of acute psychiatric beds available in Wellington. (2) To compare the current situation with that of seven years ago, before the beginning of the reduction in bed numbers, as a part of deinstitutionalisation and care in the community. (3) To study the effect on occupancy of changing availability. METHOD: Data were obtained retrospectively for the calendar years 1996 and 1989. These were examined using an analysis of variance and the results of the two years were compared. RESULTS: There were 214 days in 1996 when there were no acute psychiatric beds available. The mean daily occupancy was 100%. Comparing like populations, there was a highly significant increase in the mean occupancy as the availability decreased from 1989 to 1996. Conversely, there was a decrease in occupancy as availability temporarily increased during 1996. CONCLUSION: The number of acute psychiatric beds available in Wellington in 1996 was insufficient to meet the needs of the population, given the alternative resources available at that time. This is of particular concern in light of proposals to reduce the number of beds further.
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