Intended for healthcare professionals


Mental health: Staff shortages are causing distressingly long waits for treatment, college warns

BMJ 2021; 375 doi: (Published 07 October 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;375:n2439
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. The BMJ

England has just one consultant psychiatrist for every 12 600 people, and services are unable to meet record demand for treatment, the Royal College of Psychiatrists has said.

At least 1.5 million people in England are waiting for mental health treatment, but a 10th of consultant psychiatrist posts (568 of 5367) are not filled, the college’s 2021 census has shown.1

An analysis conducted by the college in October 2020 found that two fifths of patients waiting for mental health treatment were forced to contact emergency or crisis services before receiving treatment,2 with one in 10 ending up at an emergency department. A quarter of adults who had to wait after their …

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