§ Mr. David Atkinson
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 18 March,Official Report, column 79, in what ways the crisis accommodation he proposes for mentally ill people will differ from that treatment and care provided in acute wards of psychiatric hospitals; and what guidance is being given to health authorities on the purchase of such accommodation and the provision of 24-hour nursing care in them. 
§ Mr. Bowis
Acute treatment units provide a protective environment for people who pose a significant risk to themselves or others. They should be used to treat and care for patients who require intensive medical and nursing support for a brief period of time but usually longer than overnight. The needs of patients who do not require such a high level of support, but nevertheless are in a crisis situation, can better be served by providing them with crisis accommodation in a variety of settings and with varying levels of support.
Guidance was issued on 19 February to health and local authorities in health service guidelines LASSL(96)16/HSG(96)6. The guidance and accompanying documents are available in the Library.