Thursday, 26 February
As politicians reflect, what an ‘interesting
24 hours this has been’. First and foremost, I am really grateful
to everybody who is feeding back via the survey, and for the
emails I am receiving from members, as well as some very cogent and
telling letters about their views on the Bill.
If you are following the BBC, the Guardian or
the Telegraph, you will see the rather surreal events that have
unfolded around the Royal Medical Colleges and the Academy.
I left the Academy building at 2.30pm on
Tuesday afternoon in the honest and 100% belief that we had an
agreed statement, which would absolutely acknowledge that the only
College dissenting from this view was the Royal College of Surgeons
As the document was leaked in full to The
Guardian (I hasten to say that this was not me, as that would be a
breach of trust), I am pasting the Academy statement document that
I had signed up to verbatim, because I think this is the most
honest thing I can do for members.
‘The Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties
of the AoMRC continue to have significant concerns over a number of
aspects of the Health Bill and are disappointed that more progress
has not been made in directly addressing the issues we have
The Academy and Medical Royal Colleges are
not able to support the Bill as it currently stands.
Unless the proposals are modified the Academy believes that
Bill may widen rather than lessen health inequalities and that
unnecessary competition will undermine the provision of high
quality integrated care to patients.
As the Health Committee has highlighted
the Academy is deeply concerned that the upheaval caused by the
changes in the Bill will distract the NHS from the huge task of
meeting the current financial challenges.
The Academy and Colleges retain these
concerns but they will work with the Government and NHS
organisations to ensure that the NHS provides the best possible
care to patients should the Bill become law.’
*To be added a statement/note to make
clear that the RCSEng do not support the second
Turning adversity into advantage, I already
had a meeting scheduled with Paul Burstow MP yesterday
evening, where it was really helpful to have Lucy Thorpe, Head of
Policy, and Kam Bhui, Public Health Lead, with me.The meeting had
been arranged to discuss parity of esteem between physical
health and mental health, how we would work with Public Health
England, and the importance of mental health to public health.
Inevitably there was going to be discussion on
the Bill. I said very straightforwardly that my view was the view
of the Academy statement; that we were not able to support the Bill
as it currently stands, but whilst retaining concern, we would
continue to work with the Government and NHS organisations. I said
that this remained the College view at the present time, but made
the Minister aware that there was a survey in progress, and
therefore once we had analysed the findings, this view may
On an entirely positive note however, we did
present our thoughts about public mental health, and how we aligned
these thoughts against the outcomes framework and indicators.
This was well-received by the Minister and the civil servants.
Since then, events have moved on. On your
behalf, I am attending another Academy meeting this evening, Lucy
Thorpe will be attending the forum meeting between the RCN, the BMA
and the Academy, as I am off to Glasgow later tonight –
because life does have to exist beyond the Bill!
The Academy is the body that has Trustees and
Governance structures, and we have to learn from what has happened
over the last 24hours in that we must work within a robust
On your behalf, I went to a meeting with the
Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies, who started the first of the
Policy Breakfasts about public health. I found her direct and
straight talking approach very helpful. I explained everything that
we were already doing in this arena, and further the projects that
the four female Presidents of the Colleges of Psychiatrists,
General Practice, Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and Public
Health have in mind, i.e. that we were going to look at how we work
across the four Colleges to ‘build resilience in families’. I
highlighted that the College campaign would be on ‘Resilience and
I had a separate discussion with her around
what we are going to do to move forward academic psychiatry and
mental health research. I will be sending an email out to key
academics today to clarify their position as to what they want me
to do on increasing the recognition, value and worth of mental
health research. I did pledge this in my election statement,
therefore a relative lack of response to date will not put me off.
We now have the chance to move this on with Sally Davies,
and this is not an opportunity I want to miss.
You will be pleased to hear that at
yesterday’s Medical Programme Board (England) meeting,
everything we wanted for psychiatry was finally agreed. I would
just like to say that Tom Brown and Stuart Carney were brilliant,
and the Chair of the Academy and the Royal College of Physicians
were very supportive.
Most importantly, the Board endorsed the
College's recruitment strategy. There was broad support for a
phased approach to expand the number of psychiatry posts in the
Foundation Programme and we all need to work together to ensure
that we provide the best possible experience for trainees.
As part of the recruitment strategy, we will be promoting tasters
for foundation doctors. I am grateful to Faculties and Divisions
for sharing good practice. There needs to be a major drive over the
next few months to ensure that as many foundation doctors as
possible can undertake a taster in psychiatry.
Tomorrow I also will blog about what I am
sure will be a positive day in Scotland, and I am really looking
forward to listening and learning.
Just to brace those of you who are getting
ready for it; I would not usually blog about personal matters, but
thought I should let you know in case somebody sees me there: I
will be going to the ‘On Tour: Strictly Come Dancing’ in Liverpool
on the weekend of 4th February.
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