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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

A belated blog post

I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to update my blog last week. Dr Clare Gerada, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, is trying to persuade me to start using Facebook and Twitter – but I think I need to master the art of blogging first!

Last Tuesday, I had a productive and informative with the Children’s Commissioner for England, Dr Maggie Atkinson. Now, and in the past, the Commissioner’s team has taken a close interest in the care and treatment of young people in psychiatric inpatient services and those detained in custody. One of the team’s new initiatives includes exploring by formal inquiry the extent of, and inequalities in, school exclusions.

Those of us working with both vulnerable and offending groups know that school exclusion is a significant factor in later antisocial behaviour, and that those who are excluded have not always had their mental health needs identified. The Commissioner and her team also plan to hold an inquiry into gang-related sexual exploitation and abuse of children and young people. For us as psychiatrists, we need to be alert to this possibility when we see young people in our clinics, or when we are called to see them in A&E. 

On Wednesday, I attended a meeting of the Joint Medical Consultative Council (JMCC). The JMCC brings together the organisations that represent the medical profession in the UK, and comprises representatives from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the BMA, the British Dental Association, the Conference of Postgraduate Medical Deans and the Medical Schools Council.

Our former President and my predecessor, Professor Dinesh Bhugra, has just been elected as the new chair of this group. JMCC meets four times a year, and it provides a constructive forum in which members can meet, debate and unite on the issues that affect the practice of medicine and the delivery of healthcare in the UK.

I finished the week with a trip to Darlington, where our Northern and Yorkshire Division were holding their Autumn Conference and AGM at Darlington Football Club. I was given a very warm welcome by the Division who, through their Academic Secretary Professor Simon Gilbody, had organised an excellent academic programme on bipolar disorder. It was good to see so many trainee doctors and medical students attending the meeting.

I really value the opportunity to get out to the Divisions, and plan to do this as much as I can during the first year of my Presidency. I’m always interested in hear the views and concerns of members working around the country. Concerns expressed by the Northern and Yorkshire Division included recruitment into psychiatry, continuity of care for patients, and the implications of “functional splits” in services.

I spent the weekend in Manchester, enjoying the sunshine and a barbecue. Yesterday, I stayed in Manchester to attend a meeting of the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide. The College is a collaborating partner in this work. Professor Louis Appleby, Director of the NCISH, and his team outlined their plans as to how best to disseminate the lessons learned from these inquiries.

This morning, I travelled down to London for various meetings at the College – including one to finalise arrangements for the 2011 RCPsych Awards Ceremony, due to be held at the Royal Society of Medicine on 15 November. This is a real highlight of the College calendar, and I’m very much looking forward to the event. You can see who’s been shortlisted for this year’s awards here

I’ll post again later in the week.


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