Catastrophic shortage of psychiatrists in NHS
Prof Robert Howard, dean of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP), said the number of UK doctors was far too few to fill hundreds of training posts.
He pointed to an over reliance on overseas doctors, saying some were brilliant but cultural awareness was an essential part of being a good psychiatrist.He said: “Catastrophic is the word I would use for the shortage we are now facing. We have always struggled to recruit significant numbers but this year is particularly acute.”
“It has got to the point where you can count the number of UK doctors coming into it in tens, when we have hundreds of training posts to fill.”
“The doctors who are coming in from overseas to work in the UK: some are brilliant, and our president (Dinesh Bhugra) is a shining example. This is not being racist or unpleasant.”
“But many of them have difficulties with communication and the nuances of the UK’s culture. And if there is a speciality where it is essential to know the culture, it is psychiatry. There needs to be a balance.”
“Overall, because of the lack of competition, we are giving jobs to some people who are ‘appointable’ but certainly not people who it fills our spirits to have given jobs to.”
“The fact that we have to make a decision about the minimum standard cut-off point for potential ‘appointability’, and that we feel relieved when we find sufficient people who just scrape over this is damning enough.”