Mental health workers offered £40,000 ‘welcome payments’ and six-figure salaries

ward at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Liverpool. Women who work in mental healthcare are facing a gender pay gap
Companies are prepared to offer substantial sign-on bonuses for mental health professionals, according to Adzuna - Peter Byrne/PA

Mental health workers are being offered £40,000 ‘golden handshake’ bonuses on top of six-figure salaries, new figures show.

Several hospitals have resorted to offering so-called sign-on payments to lure in new hires amid a struggle for talent, according to analysis by job website Adzuna.

The most lucrative of these included a £40,000 “welcome payment” for a child psychiatrist role at an independent hospital in Staffordshire, in addition to a salary of up to £190,000.

Ivetsey Bank Hospital, in Staffordshire, said sign-on bonuses encouraged the “very best and most suitable candidates” to apply, and allowed “patients and residents to receive the best care”.

The children’s hospital deals with complex mental health conditions such as eating disorders, psychosis, bipolar disorder and emerging personality disorders in children aged between 12 and 18.

Active Care Group which runs the hospital, said the salary and the bonus are paid for by the company and not the taxpayer.

A spokesman said: “While senior medical professionals are in high demand across the whole of the UK healthcare sector, there remains a rigorous recruitment process in place for this role.”

A handful of other companies were prepared to offer five-figure sign-on bonuses for mental health workers, Adzuna said.

Cygnet, a private mental health group, is advertising a £10,000 “welcome bonus” for an “outstanding” consultant psychiatrist at Cygnet Meadowfield, a mental health hospital near Durham. The bonus comes alongside a salary of up to £155,000 depending on experience.

Other vacancies listed by Cygnet included a consultant psychiatrist role in Bradford which offered a £7,000 sign-on bonus and a salary of up to £155,000.

The company is also advertising bonuses of £4,000 for consultant psychiatrists who join their hospital in Mold, North Wales, and Brighouse in West Yorkshire. Several NHS trusts also offer sign-on bonuses worth thousands in “hard-to-fill specialist areas”, Adzuna said.

East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust advertised a £20,000 bonus for a consultant oncologist role at Ipswich Hospital. The role paid a maximum salary of up to £126,000 per year.

Last year the Trust offered a £13,000 incentive for a histopathologist role at Colchester Hospital, as well as a £7,000 relocation fee – on top of a £120,000 annual salary.

A spokesman for East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust said: “We have offered a very small number of recruitment incentives in a limited number of very hard-to-fill specialist areas where there is a national shortage of colleagues.

“The relocation payment element is only paid if the successful applicant moves to the area.”

Cygnet did not respond to requests for comment.

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