The Royal College of Psychiatrists has urged the Government to add NHS Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists to the shortage occupation list, as new figures analysed by the RCPsych show numbers have fallen by 6.3% in the last four years.
The number of NHS child and adolescent psychiatrists at all grades declined by 6.3% between November 2013 and November 2017.
For consultants alone the decrease was 6.9% over the same period.
Across England, the number of NHS Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists per 100,000 children is:
- Kent Surrey and Sussex – 3.75
- East of England – 4.87
- Yorkshire and Humber – 5.40
- South West – 5.74
- East Midlands – 5.76
- Wessex – 6.38
- West Midlands – 6.89
- North West – 7.92
- Thames Valley – 9.29
- North West London – 13.42
- North East – 14.29
- South London – 17.15
- North Central and East London – 17.32
Ongoing work with Health Education England has highlighted an urgent need to address the shortage – especially in light of the Government’s Children and Young People’s Mental Health Green Paper which predicted a short-term rise in referrals to NHS mental health services.
In its consultation response to the Green Paper, the RCPsych said recruiting from overseas was crucial to achieve the proposed four-week waiting time against rising demand.
Dr Bernadka Dubicka, Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Child and Adolescent Faculty said:
“Earlier this year an Indian child and adolescent psychiatrist had their visa application rejected because the quota for Tier 2 visas had been reached and they did not qualify as a priority on the shortage specialty list.
“Shortstaffing in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services is no secret. We are already struggling – and the Government’s own Green Paper Impact Assessment predicts a rise in referrals.
“We are now calling for the Child and Adolescent psychiatrists to be added to the shortage occupation list.
Recruiting from overseas is key to quickly employing more qualified doctors specialising in children’s mental health and will ensure the profession is seen as a priority by the Home Office.”
The HEE mental health workforce plan committed to an extra 100 consultant CAMHS psychiatrists by 2021, but these new roles will not be in community CAMHS teams.
The Home Office shortage occupation list gives specific professions priority for Tier 2 visas to employ non EEA staff because they are struggling to recruit at home. Core psychiatry trainees and old age psychiatrists are on the shortage speciality list, but child and adolescent psychiatrists are not.
Applicants who do not qualify on the shortage specialty list may be rejected for a visa even if they are desperately needed by the service that is trying to employ them.