NonNHS healthcare facilities

Although most psychiatric services are provided by the NHS, some care is purchased from other providers. For example, there are private psychiatric hospitals, including some set up for profit, and some non-profit-making institutions. The NHS often purchases services from both types in areas where it cannot itself meet demand. 'Difficult-to-manage' patients, especially the acutely psychotic and potentially violent; those suffering the chronic effects of brain injury; and special groups such as patients with eating disorders or puerperal illnesses, are among those most frequently placed in the private sector. Many private wards offer higher levels of staffing and tighter physical security than most modern NHS facilities.

Another example of purchased services comes from the voluntary sector: this receives public monies to provide services; thus, a charity may receive social services or health funds in order to provide 'meals on wheels' or a day centre.

Psychological treatments, such as counselling, and various forms of alternative or complementary medicine, are frequently purchased by patients directly. The practitioners consulted may or may not be properly trained and accredited, and patients may not reveal this information unless sensitively asked.

Further reading

Kent, A. and Burns, T. (2005). Assertive community treatment in UK practice. Adv Psychiatr Treat 11, 388-397.

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