In 1986 the report Bridges over Troubled Waters (NHS Health Advisory Service, 1986) stated quite categorically that patients under the age of 16 should not be treated in adult psychiatric wards. The National Association for Children in Hospital has also worked tirelessly against children and adolescents being treated in adult hospital wards, although this has mainly concerned the paediatric, medical and surgical fields. However few guidelines were laid down about the function of psychiatric units for children and adolescents when the majority of such units were first being established in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Indeed in the circular from the Ministry of Health (1964) about the need for such units it was stated that some adolescent patients could suitably be treated in adult wards. However no age limits were specified in the circular. There have been no specific guidelines issued subsequently by the Department of Health about the use of adult psychiatric beds for adolescents.
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