A psychiatric ward, like any organization, must be capable of changing to meet new demands. Undue conservatism has repeatedly been blamed for serious short-comings. Yet change can be dangerous, especially if it is rapid. Such a hiatus of experience may occur that disorganization results, or so much energy is diverted to those parts of the system being changed that vital routine tasks are neglected. Laudable endeavours in community psychiatry have got into difficulties when wards have quickly been depleted of experienced staff who have moved into community care, for which they have much enthusiasm but little experience.