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
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
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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