psychiatrist sells his knowledge on Ebay
by Adam James
NHS doctors boost their incomes by dabbling in private practice.
But one psychiatrist has opted for a markedly different approach
- selling his medical knowledge at the online auction site, Ebay.
Syed Shah, a community psychiatrist for North East Essex Mental
Health Trust, is auctioning off “education” on 36 mental
health topics, ranging from schizophrenia, manic depression to post-traumatic
stress disorder. At a starting price of £25, Ebay customers
can bid to email Shah five questions on their chosen subject.
an NHS doctor for 10 years, assures buyers that “being a UK-trained
psychiatrist, I can promise a reliable service.” With an entrepreneurial
touch, his Ebay shop, adorned with colourful graphics, is entitled
“Quality Online Store” and has the marketing slogan
“quality goods at bargin (sic) prices you can trust.”
an imaginative – as well as an unprecedented – move
by a NHS medic. And Shah is pinning his hopes that this experience
will give him the competitive edge over the hundreds of websites
offering free mental health information. Shah, who previously worked
as a psychiatrist in Manchester hospitals, then with Hertfordshire
Partnership NHS Trust, admits: “Competing against health websites
is going to be tough. But I am trying to stress that [if people
buy from me] they will be getting knowledge straight from the horse’s
originally planned to auction one-to-one clinical consultations
at Ebay. But, after seeking advice from the Medical Defence Union,
he was deterred. “There are a huge number of regulations and
insurance issues,” he explains.
admits that he launched his Ebay store last year in the hope that
the revenue could help raise the £4,500 needed for a masters
course in medical statistics. Saying he is “fed-up”
with NHS bureaucracy, this could lead him out of the NHS and into
NHS is full of bureaucracy and I am disillusioned,” says Shah.
He also laments organisational changes in mental health which, he
feels, has devalued his expertise.
says: “We have a new crisis home response team. It is a good
idea, but one trouble is that if I see someone who needs to be admitted
I have to send them to this team and my clinical judgement can then
be over-ridden by nurses or social workers
after 10 years of being angry about all of this, I thought ‘what’s
the point?’. Selling stuff on Ebay is also a way to keep some
cash coming in if I do this masters course.”
store lists much more than mental health education. He offers around
800 items, ranging from camisoles to incense sticks to books on
business in South Africa.
has sold more than 400 items in total. However, he has yet to receive
one bid for his mental health knowledge.
Syed Shah's ebay
* A shortened version of this article appeared in the Guardian newspaper
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