Over the past few years, numerous articles have highlighted the strain on (and drain of staff from) our specialty. Many general adult psychiatrists are developing bleak views of themselves, the world and the future. Encouragingly, consultants such as Hampson (2003) are structuring their roles with some success. However, we are going through a major overhaul of the model of delivery of care and need to adapt our roles accordingly. Although tuning a Triumph Spitfire might make it run more smoothly for a while, it is still an inferior beast compared with a modern car and might be better on the scrap heap. A more radical approach is needed, which we outline in this article. One of the authors (G.I.) has experience of working as a consultant psychiatrist in Australia, where the state of Victoria changed the model of delivery of general adult psychiatric services to adopt a superior American model, leading to improved patient and carer satisfaction (Joy et al, 2001). The same model has been adopted by the UK government (Department of Health, 2001) through the creation of crisis assessment and treatment services (CATS), assertive outreach teams, and specialist community and in-patient services. Consultant psychiatrists are challenged to adapt their practice accordingly. The Royal College of Psychiatrists has recently set up a Working Group to address this issue (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2004).
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