I was musing over Shiny Happy Person's post conveying thoughts that psychiatrists are lazy and do nothing.
Hmmm. Methinks not.
Every week I have a slew of patients I enjoy seeing in their homes, with colleagues, in day hospital, in day respite, on wards, in out patient clinic, on medical and surgical wards and occasionally in police cells or a section 136 assessment suite.
I would guess that most medical and surgical Consultant colleagues would also be busy with clinical contact (as well as the teaching, admin and management work Consultants do).
Last week I had, at very short notice, to dash off to peoples' homes and assess them with a view to admission under the Mental Health Act 1983. How many other Consultants in other specialities drop everything to go and see patients at their homes urgently?
Most GPs have opted out of being "on call" at night. Most medical Consultants who do "on call" don't have quiet nights "on call" they have completely silent nights with no interruptions at all. When was the last time a dermatologist or rheumatologist or gastroenterologist had to get up at 3.00am? Not a common event at all, in my neighbourhood. And by "not a common event" I mean it's never happened in living memory.
Psychiatrists are busy when "on call" on nights and weekends. We get calls from medical and surgical wards, from GPs, from families, from distraught patients, from social workers, from homeless teams, from crisis teams, from probation, from adult protection teams and from the police. You'd be surprised how often police detain someone under section 136 (of the Mental Health Act 1983) and bring them in for a Consultant to assess (well, a specialist with section 12 approval which in my patch is solely Consultants). Mostly people act "a bit odd" and are picked up by police in the streets in the wee hours. Many assessments are in the early hours of the morning.
Working full days and being genuinely busy with 'phone advice and patient assessments when "on call" makes psychiatrists far from lazy. I can't think of other Consultant colleagues in other specialities who have it busier.
Time for us to eschew this image of genteel bimbling about . . .