MiP Logo for MiP the Union for Health and Care Managers

The union for health and care managers

Home  >  News & Campaigns  >  News Articles  >  News: Therapy services facing workforce crisis
Friday 03 November 2017

Therapy services facing workforce crisis

By MiP

Dr Elizabeth Cotton:

Mental health therapy services in the UK could collapse within a decade without urgent action to boost recruitment and improve working conditions for mental health staff, according to new academic research.

A survey of 1,500 mental health workers by the Surviving Work website, in association with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, found that 21% of therapists were working in unpaid jobs and more than half had to take on more than one job to make ends meet.

The findings present “a bleak prognosis for earning a living as a therapist in the UK” said Dr Elizabeth Cotton, founder of Surviving Work and a specialist in workplace mental health at Middlesex University, who led the research. “Job insecurity is a major theme with many therapists on precarious contracts, and a rapid rise in self-employment,” she added.

Unpaid working

Unpaid therapy work was now widespread across the NHS and the not-for-profit sector, Cotton explained. “If trained professional therapists cannot earn a decent living, when the current 21% of psychotherapists who are 57 years or older retire, who will provide services for the one in four of us who experience mental health problems?” she said.

Mental health workers taking part in the survey said that only 25% of concerns about patient safety were resolved by employers, a figure that falls to 8% for complaints about poor working conditions.

Cotton warned that the ageing workforce, poor pay and working conditions, and the lack of promotion opportunities for senior professionals mean “the sector will over the next ten years face a crisis of developing experienced and qualified therapists to manage the mental health crisis in the UK”.

Current system “unsustainable”

The research, which was supported by several trade unions including the RCN and UNISON, included in-depth interviews with 68 mental health professionals. They revealed widespread concerns that the current mental health system is unsustainable.

“It’s a bad time to have a mental health problem as well as working in it. It’s the worst I’ve ever known. It’s just not sustainable emotionally for people,” said one senior therapist.

“There is a lot of staff sickness absence, everywhere I look I see burnt out therapists, trying to survive, waiting and praying for change,” added another.

If you'd like to read more from MiP, sign up to receive our free monthly emails – we’ll keep you up to date on news and events in health and care management

Baby close up with toy in mouth

With constant upheaval in the health service, new mothers working for the NHS are often anxious about going back to work. Jo Seery explains the rights women have when returning after maternity leave.

30 January 2024 | By Jo Seery
Legal Eye
Glenn McPeak (headshot), Welsh Ambulance Service manager & MiP rep

Meet Your Reps: Proud to be both a manager and a paramedic, new MiP rep Glenn McPeak says he wants to speak up for managers in the ambulance service who feel unsupported, undervalued and under pressure.

22 January 2024 | By Craig Ryan
MiP at work
Trainee hospital staff walking in a corridor

The government wants to attract thousands more staff into the NHS through apprenticeships. But uncertainty over funding, teaching staff and local autonomy could undermine the plans before they get off the ground.

05 January 2024 | By Jessica Bradley
Feature
Buki Adeyemo outside Lawton House, trust head office, Stoke

North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare could be England’s best trust. Chief executive Dr Buki Adeyemo explains the ingredients for its success: a stable and happy workforce, a listening leadership, ambitious goals and an enthusiasm for innovation.

15 December 2023 | By Matt Ross
Interview
Man with head in arms against sea blue backdrop

Burnout is a finally being recognised as a serious problem in the NHS and many other workplaces. But what is burnout, what causes it and how can we prevent it? Rhys McKenzie reports.

11 December 2023 | By Rhys McKenzie
Feature
Group of men in suits with heads buried in the sand

The last party conference season before the general election showed that UK politicians still have to get their heads round what the NHS needs and what it can be expected to deliver.

07 December 2023 | By Craig Ryan
Analysis & opinion
Woman at desk being touched by male colleague

Sexual harassment is against the law, but that doesn’t stop it happening. Josie Irwin offers her tips on recognising sexual harassment in the workplace and how to intervene effectively as a manager.

26 October 2023 | By Josie Irwin
Tipster
Hospital ward superimposed with waiting list graph

The NHS is still struggling to recover from the pandemic, but studies show productivity was falling even before the Covid shock. We asked the experts: what’s driving this, does it matter and why are managers vital to turning productivity around?

20 October 2023 | By Craig Ryan
Feature
Blind managers standing outside corporate offices

Despite recent advances, many disabled NHS managers still face multiple disadvantages at work. Understanding and commitment from line managers and local leaders is the key to further progress, writes Jessica Bradley

13 October 2023 | By Jessica Bradley
Feature
Oonagh Monhouse pictured at her desk in August 2023

As joint chair of the NHS Staff Council, Oonagh Monkhouse negotiates with unions on behalf of hundreds of NHS employers. But she’s also a working manager as director of workforce at the Royal Papworth, the UK’s leading heart and lung hospital. She talks to Matt Ross about boosting staff morale, building management capacity and why it’s important to try walking in someone else’s shoes.

27 September 2023 | By Matt Ross
Interview
123...>>
Copyright © 2022 MiP