Number of junior doctors choosing psychiatry at all time high

Press release
11 July 2019

The number of junior doctors choosing to train in psychiatry is at an all-time high, according to the latest statistics.

New figures from Health Education England reveal a 92 per cent uptake in England, Scotland and Wales, with 446 of 483 available places taken by junior doctors wanting to specialise in mental health.

This compares with a 69 per cent fill rate in 2017, when only 337 accepted one of the 491 places on offer.

The dramatic increase follows the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ #ChoosePsychiatry campaign, which launched in 2017, and has worked to increase the number of junior doctors choosing psychiatry as their speciality.

The figures also reveal a significant improvement since 2018, when 480 junior doctors accepted one of the 613 places on offer – a 78 per cent fill rate.

Record levels of investment in mental health services by the government and the NHS has helped increased public awareness to unprecedented levels, making psychiatry a more attractive career path.

Dr Kate Lovett, dean of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “Psychiatry is an incredibly rewarding career and these figures are exciting news for patients as well as the specialism.

“The College’s #ChoosePsychiatry campaign has helped drive this dramatic rise in junior doctors choosing psychiatry as their career path. 

“Psychiatrists across the country should be thanked for their amazing efforts and for promoting psychiatry as the great career we all know it is.

“We will continue our work to achieve a 100% fill rate by promoting the often life-saving and life-changing work of psychiatrists.”

Seven of the eleven regions in England secured a 100% fill rate, with the North West filling all positions for the first time. The East Midlands filled all their posts for the first time since 2013. 

With the most recent RCPsych Census showing 1 in 10 consultant posts were vacant across the UK, the increase in those training to become psychiatrists is welcome news for both patients and services.

Professor Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, Health Education England, said: “I am thrilled that there continues to be increases in fill rate for this priority recruitment area.

“It has been great to see the success of our collaboration with the College on the #ChoosePsychiatry campaign, helping to increase recruitment numbers.

“This is good news for the NHS and will help support the delivery of high-quality care to patients across the country.”  

After medical school, trainees undergo a two-year foundation training programme to bridge the gap between medical school and further specialist training. After Foundation School, junior doctors choose to follow either General or Specialist medicine.

The six-year specialist psychiatry training programme is the final step in the journey to become a consultant psychiatrist – the most senior doctor specialising in mental health. 

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