The Stoke Park Hospital Group in Bristol has been providing a service to mentally handicapped people and their families since 1909. The nature and extent of the service has changed significantly between then and now, largely due to changes in Government policy, first laid out in the 1971 white paper Better Services for the Mentally Handicapped. The changing nature of the service was highlighted in Carter's paper in 1984, in which he examined all admissions to the Group over ten years. He found an increasing use of the hospitals for short-term care, particularly for those patients with a superimposed psychiatric disorder, and a continuing, albeit reducing, demand for long-term care for some patients. He concluded that the hospital would continue to have an important role to play in the evolving pattern of care.
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