The pace of change in modern mental healthcare
has increased exponentially over the past few years. The role of
the consultant psychiatrist within a multidisciplinary team has
been debated in a way that might have been unthinkable in the past.
As a profession we must look outwards, work with stakeholders, face
the challenges related to changing expectations, and contribute to
the debate with a positive, robust and well-evidenced response.
Defensiveness and retreat into past certainties will not do.
The consultant psychiatrist, because of the nature of their medical
training, represents the only professional able to integrate
biological, psychological and social elements of healthcare into
care packages to manage and alleviate mental illness, and to
understand the complex interactions between mental and physical
The role and the responsibilities of the consultant psychiatrist
within the multidisciplinary team are still unique. This report
clearly sets out the unique benefits that a consultant psychiatrist
brings to patient care, team leadership and service
Consultant time is expensive and, particularly in the current
financial climate, commissioners who spend scarce resources need to
understand the value of what they buy. Otherwise they will,
understandably, look to buy something which costs less and
‘appears’ to do the same job.
This report should bring clarity and confidence to our fellow
professionals, to our patients and their carers, and to all others
who have an interest in these matters.
It should be read in conjunction with Good Psychiatric Practice (3rd
edition), which sets out standards of practice for
psychiatrists, and A Competency Based
Curriculum for Specialist Training in Psychiatry. Both
documents define the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary for
psychiatrists to be able to fulfil their roles as physicians.