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Warning over shortfall in funding for psychiatric doctors-in-training

By Reporter - 23rd Feb 2024


The “perennial inability” to sufficiently fund psychiatric doctors-in-training is having a “detrimental” impact on patients, according to the President of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland.

Dr Lorcan Martin, a consultant in general adult psychiatry, made the comment as the College’s annual NCHD conference takes place in Dublin today.

According to Dr Martin, the current funding of €1.3 million for doctors to train to be specialists in psychiatry was under 70 per cent of what is needed to meet demand. He said this continuous funding shortfall was a major contributor to psychiatry trainee and specialist consultant burnout, poorer patient outcomes, and significant recruitment and retention problems for mental health services.

“Our psychiatry doctors-in-training are the consultants of the future and they should be given the very best chance to succeed, but instead they are facing a highly stressful and at times unsupportive working environment,” said Dr Martin.

“At present we are underfunded, under-resourced and under-appreciated, and the net result ultimately has been detrimental to Irish patients. There are not enough psychiatrist doctors to meet demand, which makes it harder on those who do stay in this country.”

The College President said psychiatric doctors “have been asked to do more with less for years now, and even though they continually put their own welfare in jeopardy for the sake of their patients, the cracks are visible for all to see”. 

“We urgently need a revised funding and resourcing plan from the Government in order to resolve what has become an untenable situation.”
He added that the foundations were in place to provide a best-in-class service for patients.

Dr Martin noted that many of the recommendations in final report from the NCHD taskforce “were already in place in psychiatry”, including publication of statistics, a grievance policy, transparency of eligibility criteria and regionalised training schemes.

The report also recommended regular training of supervisors, which Dr Martin also said the College of Psychiatrists has been doing for many years.

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