RCPsych responds to consultants’ vote on industrial action

Statement / comment
27 June 2023

Updated on 19 July 2023: Dr Lade Smith CBE, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, assumed office on 11 July 2023. She is in full agreement with the following statement made by past President Dr Adrian James.

Consultant doctors working in the NHS have voted in favour of industrial action in a ballot of members by the British Medical Association.

Commenting on the BMA announcement, Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:

“The NHS consultant workforce, including the psychiatry workforce, has been under immense pressure for years. Consultant psychiatrists, in common with other consultants, have worked tirelessly before, during and since the pandemic, to keep NHS services running with inadequate resources.

“The College and others have warned for years that doctors are at a tipping point. Many psychiatrists have already chosen to leave the NHS because of excessive workloads, burnout and low morale. A growing number of NHS trusts now rely on locums to deliver specialist mental health services because they cannot recruit and retain permanently employed psychiatrists.

“As the professional medical body responsible for supporting psychiatrists at all stages of their careers, it is not our role to advise members on whether they should take part in industrial action. This is a personal decision for each consultant.

“While this will be a difficult decision for some, I know colleagues who decide to take industrial action will do so after careful consideration and after balancing the various risks to patient care and service provision.

“The College will continue to seek to influence Government to push for a fully funded multi-year workforce strategy to grow the psychiatric workforce. We are also pushing for significant investment to recruit and retain psychiatrists who are critical leaders of multi-disciplinary mental health teams.

“In order to deliver the best possible care to our patients, we need a workforce that is motivated, supported, and happy in their jobs."

The College’s confidential and peer-led Psychiatrists’ Support Service is available for any College member who may be experiencing personal or work-related difficulties.

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