Danish health services losing psychiatrists with funding talks ongoing

More than 20 percent of psychiatrists have left employment in the public sector in favour of private practice, according to a survey.

Danish health services losing psychiatrists with funding talks ongoing
Danish health services risk losing psychiatrists to the private sector, a survey has found. File photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

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.

READ MORE: Experts call for Denmark to spend billions on mental health services 

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The number of adults on ADHD medication in Denmark has almost doubled in six years

The number of people over the age of 18 in Denmark receiving medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has almost doubled from 2015 to 2021.

The number of adults on ADHD medication in Denmark has almost doubled in six years

In 2015, 26,000 people over the age of 18 received medication for ADHD, while in 2021, the figure increased to 51,000, the newspaper Politiken reports, based on figures it obtained from the Danish Health Data Authority.

Per Hove Thomsen, a professor of psychiatry at Aarhus University, says that all the adults who get diagnosed are born with ADHD and have thus lived with ADHD their whole lives without knowing it.

“But today, there is an increased focus on the fact that ADHD is not something you grow out of, and therefore more adults are becoming aware that it (note: ADHD) may be what makes it difficult for them to cope with everyday life,” he says.


ADHD symptoms for adults are, among others, difficulties in planning and completing tasks and large emotional fluctuations.

Especially in the past two years, the number of adults under medication has increased, and the increase is particularly large among 25 to 64-year-olds.

Two years ago, 19,000 people aged 25-44 were on ADHD medicine. The figure has now increased to over 26,000 people, which is an increase of approximately 40 percent. The increase is found among both men and women.

Despite the large increase in registered cases, there is still a notable number of unregistered cases. It is estimated that approximately 2.8 percent of the world’s adult population meets the requirements for a diagnosis of ADHD.

If that is the case, around 135,000 adults in Denmark meet the criteria for the diagnosis. Attention deficit disorders put you at great risk of developing other mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression.