Today I woke up on a crisp November morning with a smile on my face and pleased to be alive. It was bitterly cold outside though, but the sun was shining into my bedroom and lighting everything up. I love mornings like that! I turned over to reach for my phone and opened up the BBC news app to see what was going on in the world! After flicking through for a few minutes scrolling passed the endless articles about the disgraced MPs and Harvey Weinstein saga I stumbled upon an interesting article alluding to the British psychiatric system. One with the headliner “Psychiatrist Vacancies Double in Four Years in Britain”! The click bait certainly worked on me and I hurriedly read through the news article. It was detailing the lack of Psychiatrists filling jobs throughout the UK and how it was impacting upon waiting times for service users to seek much needed treatment. Of course this is true and waiting times ought to be at a minimum but I couldn’t help feeling a sense of anger towards the NHS.
In my experience of working both within the NHS structure and third sector organisations, it is clear to me that the mental health professionals such as Nurses, Occupational Therapists and Social Workers are getting a raw deal! Not to mention the carers who carry out so much of the face to face work.
I decided to look upon Psychiatrist vacancies in the UK and was alarmed at the salaries these professionals earn. A registered Nurse or Occupational Therapist will begin their careers earning £22, 128 for working full time. However a Psychiatrist in their first year of practice earns a whopping £76.761. It made me angry because I work with a lot of vulnerable people who benefit mostly from the work by nurses, occupational therapists and definitely carers and support workers (whose yearly salaries start at £15,404 for full time). Is it not time to turn the tables on this elitist hierarchical structure where ‘doctors’ who sit in their offices, see their patients the least yet get rewarded the most. Whilst the ‘lower level’ professionals and support staff suffer with unprecedented stress at work, undoubtedly resulting in poor mental health to themselves to keep service users safe and well, whilst minimising risks and providing much needed care and support.
Should this money that is merely sitting in the pot be reallocated to services to employ more mental health professionals and support staff within the British psychiatric system? I for one say yes!
With the average Care Coordinator carrying up to 30+ cases each (and being wholly responsible for their service users), more money needs to be invested to share this heavy load so that mental health professionals do not reach the point of burn out. Which many do.
Why the big wigs at the top don’t view this the way I clearly do I will never know, but surely it makes sense that if you cannot fill up to 10% of Psychiatry vacancies, then that allotted fund SHOULD be reallocated to much more needed services. Yes I agree, Psychiatrists are crucial in the mental health system, but so are many others who are being pulled and pushed into knots just to keep the current system afloat. Do they REALLY warrant a salary of between £76,000-£103,000? I say the funds need to be more fairly distributed. Would it be so bad to maybe cut their wages a little, maybe even to say £65,000-£93,000 to inject much needed funds into other vital services? My guess would be that it would be viewed as a brilliant idea by everyone except the Psyches.
What angers me the most though is that the NHS is a spaghetti junction of middle managers who cream a very good living off the tax payer, yet sit at desks filling in paper work and attending meetings to sip coffee. My advice is to cut the middle managers (they’re two a penny) and cut some of the Psychiatrists wages and save the much needed services offered by many community mental health teams.
Wow that was quite a rant! What’s your take on it? I’m open to opinion 🙂