That trend could continue with many senior psychiatrists working in public hospitals having considered moving to the private sector in the last six months.
The survey, conducted by the Danish Association of Senior Physicians (Overlægeforeningen), found that 46 percent of senior child psychiatrists and 40 percent of senior psychiatrists in adult care considered making the switch to private employment.
Psychiatrists described frustration and despair at having to turn patients in need away in the public system, according to the survey results.
“Even if only some of them make good on these considerations, it will have devastating consequences for regional psychiatry, and it will be a disaster for patients and a huge challenge for equal access to healthcare in Denmark,” Susanne Wammen, president of the Association of General Practitioners, told newspaper Politiken.
The acute psychiatric clinic in the Greater Copenhagen region has meanwhile delayed a 24-hour service scheduled to be offered from September 1st insufficient staffing, media Dagens Medicin reports. News wire Ritzau has independently verified the situation.
“We are still working on finding a solution so that we can staff the emergency service. As soon as this is done, the service will start,” the Greater Copenhagen health authority told Ritzau in a written statement.
The service currently operates from 4pm to 8am – thereby through the night – during the week, and around the clock at weekends.
Political discussions over increased funding for mental health services in Denmark are ongoing.
Last month, an expert group advocated for major spending on a revamp of existing services. In the 2023 draft budget, the government earmarked funds of 600 million kroner in 2023 and one billion kroner annually in a so-called “negotiation reserve” (forhandlingsreserve).
Although the government has said it would like to see funds from this pool spent on psychiatry, this would require an agreement with other parties.
Even if the spending was to be secured, it would not be sufficient to resolve existing needs, according to the Danish Psychiatric Foundation (Psykiatrifonden).
“There’s no connection between the negotiations going on in the Ministry of Health, the ambition to raise psychiatry, with what is being put forward in the draft budget,” the director of the organisation, Marianne Skjøld, said in August.
Health minister Magnus Heunicke has argued that it was not right to earmark funding for psychiatry in the budget because political negotiations are ongoing over a separate, ten-year plan for the same area. There is currently no political agreement on how the ten-year plan will be financed.