In the British National Health Service, the number of asylum beds have more than halved since the mid 1950s. At its inception in 1948, the British National Health Service inherited 154,000 psychiatric beds. There are now fewer than 40,000. Most of the 130 large hospitals of that time have already closed. Most of the remainder will be closed by 2005. The closure of the asylum has occurred in parallel with the development of extramural or, as it is more usually known, community care. Bartlett and Wright open the preface to their book with the observation that this momentous change has "constituted one of the most contested programmes in contemporary social policy."