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

Changing times

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

On Monday I had a great evening at the home of RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada with her family and friends there including the incoming president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Dr Hilary Cass. We intend to work across all three of our Colleges, looking at the challenges facing families and how we as doctors can best safeguard the vulnerable at the margins.

I next met Clare at a hastily-arranged meeting with the Shadow Health Minister. As you know, medical royal colleges are apolitical bodies. However, we were being urged to ask for an 11th hour total opposition to the Health and Social Care Bill, against a background of intense scrutiny of the Bill in the House of Lords.

So what, as psychiatrists and doctors, do we want to do at this 11th hour for our service users and carers? In mental health, we came late to the world of tariffs. Even with the great work that many of our members are doing on payment by results, commissioning guidance etc, our patients may still be disadvantaged. We want a real – not a token – say in commissioning. We need protected time in our job plans, whether working in the NHS, independent or third sector. We want the ability to influence local service development, to influence regional and national policy, to carry out our role as educators to the next generation of psychiatrists, and to ensure our College continues to play a vital role in quality improvement by providing the best possible post-graduate medical education. We must have parity of esteem between mental and physical health throughout the face of the Bill.

For England, the next three months in parliament are vital and the outcome will have potential knock-on effects for the other UK countries. I need your continued support and views, as I’m determined to stand up for what is best for users and carers, and to enable you to continue your roles as leaders for bet mental health and social care.

Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all the best for the holiday season. I wish you all a good break – as I return back up north to continue fixing my leaking roof.   Whatever the challenges we all face in 2012, we can have a peaceful New Year, and continue to work, as I know each and every one of you do, to improve the quality of mental health services for our users and carers.



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