Friday 23 August 2019

17,000 psychiatric patients admitted to facilities last year, says health report

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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The number of patients who had a stay in psychiatric hospitals or units rose to 17,000 last year - bucking the trend of falling admissions over the past decade.

Depression, schizophrenia, mania, neurosis and alcoholic disorders accounted for more than two-thirds of all admissions, the Health Research Board (HRB) report revealed.

The increase of 257 admissions is the third time numbers have risen in recent years, although the overall trend is downwards.

The reasons behind the increase are unclear, and it is not known whether they are related to a failure to access services on time in clinics outside hospitals.

Antoinette Daly, research officer at the HRB, said the prevailing pattern is an overall decline in admissions from 20,195 admissions in 2009 to 17,000 in 2018.

"Small increases were also recorded in 2013 and 2015, and have not affected this fall in admissions over time.

"Meanwhile, the number of admissions under 18 years of age decreased from 441 in 2017 to 408 in 2018."

Some 16pc of these children were aged 14 years or younger.

"More than three-quarters of these young people were admitted for the first time in 2018 and 84 were admitted to adult units," she said.

Some 63pc were female and depression accounted for almost a third of admissions of those under 18 years. A recent report from Eurofound showed that young women in Ireland reported the highest levels of moderate to severe depression in the EU.

Ms Daly said there has been an increase in the number of admissions for under-18s over the 10-year period, up from 367 in 2009 to 408 in 2018. She added: "The proportion of under-18 admissions to adult units has dropped from 58pc in 2009 to almost 21pc in 2018, while admissions to child and adolescent units increased from 42pc in 2009 to 79pc in 2018.

"This reflects a change in provision of child services and practice in relation to psychiatric admissions."

The report found that 31pc of all admissions for under-18s had a diagnosis of depressive disorders.

Some 15pc had neuroses, 12pc had schizophrenia and 8pc suffered from eating disorders.

The proportion of patients admitted against their will remained at 13pc.

Some 85pc of under-18s who were admitted were discharged last year.

The average length of stay for all under-18s was 43.3 days.

The 20-24 age group had the highest rate of all admissions and the over-75s the lowest.

More than half of admissions were single. Married people accounted for one in four with widowed and divorced people making up 4pc each.

But divorced people had the highest rate of all admissions, while married people had the lowest rate of all.

The number of admissions with no fixed abode increased from 243 in 2017, to 306 in 2018.

And 74pc of admissions with no fixed abode were men, 81pc of whom were single.

First admissions increased by 134, from 5,905 in 2017 to 6,039 in 2018, accounting for 35.5pc of all stays last year.

Irish Independent

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