Friday, 15 November
This truly has been a week to celebrate the
achievements of psychiatrists and mental health tams - as well as a
week to seize opportunity from government announcements to make
resourced mental health interventions a key priority.
Grants and celebrations
On Tuesday night, I attended a the BMA's 2013
research grants awards, which awards grants totalling over
£500,000 to encourage and further medical research. It was
particularly great to see Dr Tony James receiving the
Margaret Temple grant for his stem cell project in adolescent
schizophrenia. Our Past President Baroness Sheila Hollins now
Chairs the BMA's Board of Science, so it was good to see her
On Wednesday, we saw the New Members'
Reception being held for the last time at Kensington Town Hall.
From now on, we will be able to hold these receptions at our new
offices in 21 Prescot Street. It is always very enjoyable to see
new members celebrating with their families, and this year - for
the first time - everyone wore College gowns which are black, blue
RCPsych Awards 2013
Yesterday, we held the fifth annual
RCPsych Awards ceremony. This is always
a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the achievements of
researchers, psychiatrists, mental health teams, and service users
We had brilliant entries from individuals and teams from across
the UK and across the specialties. This year, we presented awards
right across the career path - from the brand new Medical Student
of the Year award (which went to Nicholas Deakin who studied at
Bristol University) through to the Lifetime Achievement Award
(which was presented to the indomitable Margaret Oates).
We also presented President's Medals to Professor Gillian Baird,
Rt Hon Paul Burstow MP, Bruce Calderwood and Charles Walker MP.
These Medals are designed to recognise those from across medicine,
policy, government and research who have been pivotal in advancing
psychiatry and the cause of mental health.
I would like to say a special thanks to Allison Pearson, the
writer and journalist, who hosted the ceremony for the second year
in a row with such talent, humanity and humour.
Mental health in Europe
Unfortunately I wasn't able to stay for the celebrations after
the Awards ceremony, as I had to leave early to catch a train to
Strasbourg. I travelled with a service user and carer to attend a
Psychiatric Association (EPA) anniversary symposium to improve
the human rights to citizens with mental illness. Hopefully, by
this evening, an EPA declaration will have been made at the
Strasbourg Council of Europe about de facto rights-based
While reading the train line's magazine, I noticed that they had
a whole section dedicated to how they have worked to employ people
with disabilities and mental illness. Our train lines could take
Being in Europe has got me thinking about
how EU monies come into the UK, and what comes to mental health and
learning disability. I will start looking into it, but if anyone
out there knows - or has benefitted from EU monies, please let me
know by sending in your comments below.
It has been a busy week for government
announcements. First, we saw the "refreshed"
NHS Mandate, which had plenty of references to mental health.
Then, we saw NHS England's plan
to deal with urgent and emergency care. Both give us an
opportunity to argue the case for strengthening liaison psychiatry
services, and for parity in commissioning both at local and
national level. But it does mean we need to work out across
the specialities how we can deliver what is being asked whilst
dealing with day to day pressures. Only by being actively
involved in change can we hope to influence.
The College's response to the Francis
Report is almost complete, and it will be interesting to see
the Department of Health's second response shortly. I am still
worried by how many of you email me individually to say you don't
feel it's safe to whistleblow. This cannot be allowed to continue,
as we need you - as clinical leaders - to feel able to speak out
without fear or favour. I can assure you that the College is
continuing to work on this issue.
So shortly nhs england are running a
meeting on parity in manchester to see how we really get local
commissioners to understand what needs to be done prioritised and
I have an exciting weekend coming up.
Tomorrow, I am attending the AGM of the British Association for
Counselling and Psychotherapy, where I will be pleased to become a
I spend Sundays at the cinema with my grandsons - who are now
eight and two. The youngest is absolutely lost in amazement as the
character from the big screen look out and talk to him. Our fellow
cinema goers are very tolerant of him having animated conversations
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