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Retirement intentions of older consultant psychiatrists

  • Alex Mears (a1), Tim Kendall (a2), Cornelius Katona (a3), Carole Pashley (a3) and Sarah Pajak (a4)...
Abstract
Aims and Method

This survey gathered data on the retirement intentions of consultant psychiatrists over the age of 50 years, in order to address retention issues. A questionnaire was sent to all 1438 consultants over this age in the UK.

Results

A total of 848 questionnaires were returned, an adjusted response rate of 59%. The mean age at which consultants intended to retire in this sample was 60 years (s.d. 4.16), suggesting a potential loss of 5725 consultant years. Reasons for early retirement are complex: factors encouraging retirement include too much bureaucracy, lack of free time and heavy case-loads; those discouraging retirement include enjoyment of work, having a good team and money. Mental Health Officer status is an important determinant in the decision to retire early.

Clinical Implications

With numerous vacancies in consultant psychiatrist posts throughout the UK, premature retirement is a cause for concern, possibly contributing to an overall reduction in consultant numbers of 5%. Addressing factors that influence consultants' decisions to leave the health service early should form an important part of an overall strategy to increase consultant numbers.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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Appleby, L. (2002) What about the workforce? Psychiatric Bulletin, 26, 21.
Kendell, R. & Pearce, A. (1997) Consultant psychiatrists who retired prematurely in 1995 and 1996. Psychiatric Bulletin, 21, 741745.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Retirement intentions of older consultant psychiatrists

  • Alex Mears (a1), Tim Kendall (a2), Cornelius Katona (a3), Carole Pashley (a3) and Sarah Pajak (a4)...
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eLetters

Retaining MHO Status is not 'perverse'.

Navjot S. Ahluwalia, Consultant Psychiatrist in Substance Misuse
20 April 2004

Mears et al (Psychiatric Bulletin April 2004. 28, 130-132) have produced a valuable paper but I believe reinterpretation of some of their findings is necesssary.

As I am sure most readers are aware the entire NHS pension scheme is being 'reviewed'. This includes the MHO status which most workers in the psychiatric services still have as it was only removed as a priviledge in 1995. I have a deep sense of unease about the pensions 'review' and this paper can only add to my dismay.

I had not realised that early retirement using MHO status was "perverse" as the authors put it. I believe those in the armed services and the Police Force have similar rights to such dreadful perversion. Someof us have managed the financial planning of our families on this disgusting incentive.

Also the authors fail to note that those doctors with MHO status intended to retire at a mean age of 59.14 years versus 62.88 years for those without it. The difference is only 3.74 years, a long way from the potential maximum difference of 10 years as those with MHO status can retire without penalty from 55 onwards.

It would be better to concentrate on the real factors in the study encouraging psychiatrists to retire such as heavy case-loads and feeling undervalued. Or perhaps it is easier for the Department of Health to save some pennies by removing the MHO status from perverts like me! I will bet my life that this is the part of the paper that will have them jumping for joy.
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Conflict of interest: None Declared

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Perverse Incentives

Michael Cooper, Consultant Psychiatrist
06 April 2004

Whether or not the incentive to be able to retire early from what your survey confirms to be an overworked and undervalued profession is 'perverse' (Psychiatric Bulletin, April 2004, 28, 130-132) is a matter fordebate. Nevertheless many psychiatrists will undoubtedly have taken it into account when choosing their career. More to the point, many Mental Health Officers will have made important financial planning decisions based upon a "guarantee by law" (A guide to the NHS pensions scheme NHSPA, 2001) that such an entitlement will remain in place.

Given that there may be moves by the government to change the law andhence remove such a guarantee, do the authors not consider it unwise to describe what many consider to be one of the few 'perks' of psychiatry in such a way? Given the substantial financial incentives of non-NHS work, have the authors not considered the potentially disastrous consequences for an already strained profession that the removal of MHO status might lead to?

Mike Cooper Consultant in General Adult PsychiatryRotherham District General Hospital
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Conflict of interest: None Declared

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