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BACKGROUND: During the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, children and young people (CYP) faced significant restrictions. The virus and mitigation approaches significantly impacted how health services could function and be safely delivered. AIMS: To investigate the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns on CYP psychiatric admission trends during lockdown 1 (started 23 Mar 2020) and lockdown 2 (started 5 Nov 2020) of the COVID-19 pandemic in England. METHOD: Routinely collected, retrospective English administrative data regarding psychiatric hospital admissions, length of stay and patient demographic factors were analysed using an interrupted time series analysis (ITSA) to estimate the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns 1 and 2 on service use trends. We analysed data of 6250 CYP (up to 18 years of age) using ordinary least squares (OLS) regression analysis with Newey-West standard errors to handle autocorrelation and heteroscedasticity. RESULTS: Psychiatric hospital admissions for CYP significantly fell during lockdown 1, and then fell even further during lockdown 2. A greater proportion of admissions during lockdown were out of area or to independent sector units. During lockdown, the average age of CYP admitted was higher, and a greater proportion were female. There was also a significant increase in the proportion of looked-after children and CYP from the most socioeconomically deprived areas admitted during lockdown 2. CONCLUSIONS: During both lockdowns, fewer CYP had psychiatric admissions. The subsequent rise in admissions for more socioeconomically deprived CYP and looked-after children suggests that these CYP may have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, or overlooked during earlier phases.

Original publication




Journal article


BJPsych Open

Publication Date





COVID-19, In-patient treatment, community mental health teams, pandemic, psychiatric hospital admissions