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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

OP74. Role of the Consultant Psychiatrist: Leadership and excellence in mental health services


Price: £10.00

Published: Jun 2010

Status: current

Number of pages: 20

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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 health.

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 development.

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.

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