Monday, September 21, 2009

Psychiatrist's wages

I was on the bus yesterday, and I got to thinking about what psychiatrists are paid. Personally I have thought in the past that psychiatrists are guilty of biological reductionism. To be honest I now think that if they reduce mental illness to biology, then we should reduce them to the dealing with that biology, including a subsequent considerable drop in their wages!!!

Nearly all the constructive input into my mental health, and thus any real healing I have received, has been from nursing staff, and yet they get paid a fraction of the wages of shrinks. Having pursued a BSc with a considerable biosciences component including neurobiology, I doubt that the average SHO has a better grasp of the subject than I, and certainly a £70-100k consultant's knowledge would be far less than a PhD student on a £16k stipend who might go on to earn in the region of £30-40k. No doubt they would argue that they do more than merely address neurobiology, but there's the irony; clinicians often spend all their time poo pooing (or at least completely disregarding) the statements of patients in regard to socioeconomic, psychological, and micro-political concerns, then justify their wage packets by arguing they address precisely these factors. In fact much of the real treatment for psychiatric patients is rendered by CPNs, RMNs, Care Assistants, Social Workers, 'Lay' Therapists and Workers. It times where the state has to tighten its belt, when cuts must be made, I can think of no better place to start than with psychiatrists. They would no doubt wish to be compared with other grades and consultants across the NHS, but let us not forget that very many of these have a wide skill base, often including surgical skill (and I'm not arguing for more psychosurgery before they get any ideas!!!). Its time that we turn around the description of psychiatry as biologically reductionist, and reduce both their job description (to cover what they can or will ACTUALLY do) with an associated drop in wages. Some might argue that with lower wages in the discipline talent would be drained away from psychiatry, having met much of the 'talent' I'd argue that this might be no bad thing.

After all how much should somebody be paid for holding the metaphorical keys to the meds cabinet?

If we consider that it is projected that after recovery by 2012, the average price of a house will be around £226,000. Even if we take psychiatrists as being of above average importance to society (let's say for arguments sake double the average) and that they pay a third of their wages in NI and Tax, then we are left with a standard consultant psychiatrists home being worth c£500k, with a yearly wage after tax of c£66k (and ignoring private practice or 'consultancy'). That would mean they would be able, not counting their ability to gain multiple properties, mortages and related incomes, to buy outright a half a million pound home in around 12 years with a remaining wage of c24k (after tax!!!) a year for that 12 year period.

Given that the average person's mortgage is around 25 years, and given that we have already calculated that their home would be worth twice as much, are we also meant to swallow that it would also take them half the time for pay for a house valued at double the (average) value???

I would think that considering their education, training, and position, a capped salary from the public purse for their biomedical intervention should be fairly set at c£50k?

Monday, September 07, 2009

No go…

Well, I didn’t get the job. Indeed the whole attempt at getting back to work has gone on the back burner. Signed off by the Dr for 3 months, lets see how the DWP can help? I am going to try and get down to the charity I did an applied project with during my MSc, partly as a service user, but also because they wanted help carrying out a project. Might as well put my time into something constructive.

Friday, September 04, 2009


I’m starting, as I approach my 40th birthday to have some real clarity about interpersonal relationships, and the concept of what I suppose might be categorised as shared subjective external focussed reality. 

“Mirror mirror on the wall…”