This seventh annual census undertaken by the Royal College of
Psychiatrists indicated psychiatric staffing in England, Scotland,
Wales and Northern Ireland as at 30 September 1998.
Modifications to the methodology this year have allowed a more
detailed analysis of areas such as consultant retirements and
recruitment. Information about SHO posts and their use by either
psychiatric trainees or those aiming for careers in general
practice is now clearer also.
There continues to be a significant vacancy rate for
consultants and this has increased this year. There is considerable
variation both between different parts of the UK and between
specialities. England consistently has the highest vacany figures
for all specialities apart from forensic psychiatry, where the
highest numbers are for Wales (20%). By speciality, rehabilitation
(25%), old age (18%), learning disability (17%) and substance
misuse (16%) are the most problematic areas and only some of this
is accounted for by increased establishment of new posts.
Increased movement of established consultants to new posts
seems of increasing significance.
The other factor of relevance is regional variation, with
Northern England doing much worse with around 20% vacant posts
compared with other areas. A steady increase in non-consultant,
non-training grade posts over the past 3 years may be one of the
ways trusts are finding to meet the skills shortfall at consultant