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Psychiatrists on boards: the diversity of psychiatrists working as board directors in Mental Health Trusts in England
  1. Peter L Cornwall1,
  2. Allan Osborne2
  1. 1 Redcar and Cleveland Mental Health Service, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, Redcar, UK
  2. 2 Medical School, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Peter L Cornwall, Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, Redcar TS10 5RT, UK; lennycornwall{at}


Background The lack of diversity in healthcare leadership has been reported as a risk factor for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on black and ethnic minority healthcare staff. The medical workforce is increasingly diverse but not necessarily in its senior leadership.

Methods We aimed to describe the characteristics of psychiatrists with board-level responsibility in Mental Health Trusts in England, comparing the current picture to that of 2016, using publicly available sources of data. We examined whether the psychiatric leaders were representative of the consultant workforce.

Results Psychiatrists in senior leadership positions are unrepresentative of the consultant workforce, with UK and Irish graduates, and forensic psychiatrists being over-represented, and general adult psychiatrists being under-represented. There has been minimal change between 2016 and 2020, despite a 50% turnover in those holding board-level responsibility.

Conclusions If greater diversity in psychiatric leadership is desired, stronger action needs to be taken to promote leadership development opportunities from under-represented groups.

  • medical leadership
  • mental health
  • senior medical leader

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  • Twitter @lennycornwall

  • Contributors PLC devised the study and analysed the data. AO gathered the data. Both authors contributed to the preparation of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

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