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A review of one year of British Armed Forces mental health hospital admissions
  1. Lt Col A Finnegan, Officer Commanding Nursing*,
  2. S Finnegan and
  3. D Gamble, Consultant Advisor in Psychiatry (Army)
  1. *Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Selly Oak Hospital, Raddlebarn Rd, Birmingham B29 6JD 0121 627 8811 alan.finnegan{at}uhb.nhs.uk

Abstract

Objectives The paper provides a review of one year of military Mental Health (MH) hospital admissions. This includes an exploration into demographic trends, differences in clinical opinion and how information gained is used to improve the service and ensure appropriate, cost effective care in the optimum environment.

Methods The sample group is entitled military MH hospital admissions from 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006. Data was collected on questionnaires with SPSS used for the management and analysis of the quantitative data, with the information exposed to descriptive and inferential statistical analysis.

Results There were 344 admissions. The paper contains a detailed review of a number of variables. Depression was the most common diagnosis resulting in 112 (33%) hospital admissions and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder accounted for 23 (7%). There were statistically significant differences that may be attributable to gender with more women admitted with depression and more men with alcohol related disorders. The average length of stay was 21 days, with 48% of patients discharged within 3 weeks. 45% of all returns included significant events reporting that highlighted written evidence of good and poor practice.

Conclusion This study is part of an extensive monitoring programme of military MH hospital admissions. Depression is the most common MH problem leading to hospital admission. The results indicate that Service-personnel have access to a highly responsive service that provides brief assessment and treatment within a safe therapeutic environment. 45% of returns included significant event information that resulted in policy changes, leading to improved patient care and a better interface with the NHS. Bench-marking, both internally between military Departments of Community Mental Health and externally have improved visibility and self awareness leading to better GP induction programmes, PHC educational seminars and the establishment of MH web-pages. The Armed Forces need an effective MH service that is accessible, readily available, non-stigmatised and which positively advocates a duty of care. The results highlight the importance of further studies regarding depression to ensure that the Armed Forces are in a better position to maximise the use of MH resources.

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