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4 September 2023

How does working for an Independent Healthcare Provider like Cygnet, compare with working for the NHS?

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Check out our Q&A with Doctor Gbolagade Akintomide a Consultant Psychiatrist at Cygnet Hospital Hexham, who offers some interesting answers…

Doctor Akintomide has been working for Cygnet for over 5 years, after previously working within the NHS.


What attracted you to Cygnet over the NHS?

There was a bit of a Push and Pull. The push was that the NHS could be a bit cliquey and lots of politics! The shifts had to be done within 9-5 and anyone really committed to working out of hours wasn’t rewarded in that sense. The pull was that the pay is higher within the independent sector and I was approached by a Medical Director I knew – which helped.


What do you think are the best things about your day-to-day role with an independent healthcare provider that may differ from your role within the NHS?

There is a higher level of independence as a Consultant Psychiatrist at Cygnet and less pressure on legacy cases. They also have brilliant legal support – indemnity and insurance – and Cygnet fully supports their staff through coroners’ inquests and so on. What’s better about independent care overall is that both Staff and Patient treatment can be nimble and compassionate. There’s less worry about ‘stepping on other people’s toes’. For example, with patients, there is more flexibility to change services as and when circumstances change. An example of this was during Covid. Some services were no longer required. I was working in Rehab and Acute Care, but during COVID-19, we needed more PICU (intensive care) – so a unit was set up and I’m still working within this unit today as I find it so rewarding. In the NHS they need to discharge people as quickly as possible to get the beds and sometimes this can put pressure against your name to do things you may not 100% agree with. Within independent care, I find it more fulfilling as you tend to have more time to get patients better before we discharge them, and therefore we see more improved patient outcomes.


How do the career progression and benefits differ at Cygnet from what was on offer within the NHS?

Cygnet is a very compassionate employer. If you are an experienced Consultant Psychiatrist (CP) there are better opportunities such as Deputy / Medical Director. There are more opportunities and you can get there faster than within the NHS. For anyone looking to become a CP with less formal training: people coming from overseas with Psychiatric experience or anyone needing an alternative path into CCT  for example, Cygnet has a structured CESR training programme. Other organisations like the NHS do have CESR programmes but they’re far less structured than what is available with Cygnet. There are fewer ‘out of hours’ and ‘on call’ requirements in the independent sector too.


What do you see as the interesting developments that people working within Psychiatry will experience within their careers over the next decade?

Unfortunately due to the cost of living pressures and social media, this will continue to affect people’s mental health and the number of patients will continue to increase. The need to obtain patients’ consent – for consent-driven care will mean that our ability to detain patients under the MHA will be reduced. This could lead to a more collaborative approach. The use of technology in neurology will become more frequent too – using MRI more. Cygnet with its size and specialisms can provide the opportunity for Consultants to keep moving around and re-tool, ready for all these developments in the future.

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