Of all the decisions taken by psychiatrists with or on behalf of their patients, few are as potentially far-reaching as the decision to repatriate a mentally ill person to his or her country of origin. Although many psychiatrists have anecdotal experience of individual cases, published research on repatriation is surprisingly sparse. Burke (1973) reported 66 persons repatriated from Britain to Jamaica over a four year period, and Asuni (1968) found 82 returning via Aro Hospital, Nigeria, over a similar period. Although it is difficult to extrapolate an estimate of the number leaving the UK each year, these figures suggest that the practice is not uncommon and that significant, possibly increasing, numbers of people are affected.
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