Vicky Spratt | Deputy Editor | Monday, 11 September 2017

Mental Health Treatment Is A Post Code Lottery, Says Royal Society Of Psychiatrists

Mental Health Treatment Is A Post Code Lottery

The Debrief: London has more than double the number of psychiatrists than the east of England...

Today the Royal College of Psychiatrists has said there are not enough NHS psychiatrists in some parts of the UK, meaning that those in need of psychiatric care for mental health issues are subject to a postcode lottery. 

According to NHS Digital data, which the Royal College of Psychiatrists examined, in Scotland, there are 10 consultant psychiatrists per 100,000 people. However, there are only 8 per 100,000 in England and Northern Ireland and just six in Wales. Within England, there are serious regional disparities: London has more than double the number of psychiatrists than the east of England. 

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In recent years much attention has been directed at the government’s mental health strategies and the shortage of health professionals in psychiatry has been described as a ‘crisis’ in mental health.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists is particularly concerned by these figures because they do not think enough medical students are training to become psychiatrists. In England, there has been a 1.7% increase in psychiatry consultants compared with a 20.2% increase in consultants across other fields in the NHS

Professor Wendy Burn, President of The Royal College of Psychiatrists, said ‘people with a severe mental illness should expect to see a specialist consultant, just as you would for a severe physical illness.’ 

‘She continued, ‘the huge variation in consultant psychiatrists across the country means reality is increasingly falling short of our expectations.’ 

Stories and newspaper front pages leading with mental health stories have become a regular fixture in recent years. Earlier this year, it was revealed that police forces across the country were dealing with a record number of phone calls related to mental health with a senior officer saying they were ‘picking up the pieces’ due to NHS cuts and rising demands. 


When she became Prime Minister, Theresa May stood outside Number 10 and said she would prioritise mental health issues. In her ‘Shared Society’ speech in January she also spoke of the ‘burning injustices’ of people not being able to access the mental health treatment they need, ‘the burning injustice of mental health and inadequate treatment that demands a new approach from government and society as a whole’ she said. 

We talk and read about mental health more than ever today but, it seems, provisions for treatment aren’t where they need to be. Awareness is great but it has to translate into action, treatment, and support. 

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Tags: Mental health