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

In Parliament

Friday, 22 June

Having left behind the women’s handbags on Tuesday afternoon, I took the short journey to Portcullis House where, through the science and technology workstream of parliament, I heard fascinating presentations about neuroscience, children and the law. The presentations explored whether and how new knowledge would enable developmental maturity and the impact of Acquired Brain Injury to be better assessed in young offenders.

On Tuesday evening, we held another evening lecture at the College, given by one of our Honorary Fellows, the Rt Hon the Baroness Hale. She described - with her unique qualities of intellect, wit and humanity - the recent history of how the family law courts have, could, and might in the future, make best use of expert witnesses.

The lecture theatre was packed, and the debate lively and informed. I was pleased to see such a range of people attending, both senior adult and child psychiatrists and many young psychiatrists.

The theme that emerged for me is the risk that the myriad vulnerable groups who we currently provide specialist services for may easily fall through commissioning gaps. The challenge is how we impress on commissioners and providers at all levels that these groups should have access to services as a matter of parity within mental health. And we need to work out how we make best use of health and social care working together to provide integrated assessments for court and ongoing interventions.


Yesterday, I was in the Houses of Parliament again to attend the launch of The Right to be Heard, a review by The University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) on the quality of Independent Mental Health Advocate Services in England. The session was introduced by Charles Walker MP, who referred to his own mental health problems. - as he did so eloquently during the mental health debate in the Commons last week. Hopefully some of the indicators drawn out by this UCLAN study can be brought into the College’s own quality improvement work.


I was a little surprised to be asked to arrive Parliament an extra 45 minutes early. But I soon realised it was because Aung San Suu Kyi was speaking to the Lords and the Commons. It was a truly touching moment to be in Parliament as she was leaving, having given her address in the Great Hall.


In other news, I am pleased to announce that we have appointed Dr Jonathan Campion as the College’s new Specialist Advisor for Mental Health Strategy. I very much look forward to working with him.



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