A survey of 100 completed Regional Secure Unit (RSU) in-patient episodes shows that most patients are young, male, short-stay and suffering from chronic psychotic disorders. Substance abuse is prevalent, and many currently face serious charges. A significant minority of patients had previously been admitted to the Unit, especially those admitted directly from the community. Nearly half of all discharges were directly into community placements, and nearly as many remained under the care of the forensic service. Despite the sampling frame, it is clear that a few ‘long-stay’ patients contribute disproportionately to overall bed occupancy, so that beds for acute admissions may be blocked. Further, ‘parallel care’ is operating to a significant degree in this service, with the inevitable accumulation of patients who will continue to require future in-patient care. These two factors in particular suggest that the ability of the RSU to fulfil its basic functions may become increasingly compromised, particularly with respect to emergency requirements for medium secure beds at the district level.
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