To quantify perceived problems with psychiatric bed availability nationally using a questionnaire survey of all 210 UK mental health trusts.
One hundred and seventy-three (82%) trusts replied. Thirty (17%) are often over-occupied, 21 (15%) often have problems with bed availability. Ten (7%) often use extra-contractual referrals (ECRs). Frequent over-occupancy is associated with deprivation. Frequent use of ECRs is associated with relatively few beds.
Problems with bed availability are found nationwide, but outside southern England are relatively infrequent. Such problems are less pronounced than in Greater London.
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