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

January update

Tuesday, 24 January

I set out during the first six months of my Presidency to go out and meet with all external partners, and for the following six months to meet with as many as possible of our major partners, such as NHS Foundation Trusts.

I started this last Friday by accepting an invitation to visit the North Essex Partnership Trust. Like all Foundation Trusts, in meeting with their Chief Executive, Andrew Geldard, I learned of the challenges the Trust faces in times of economic restraint and unprecedented reforms. I also met with colleagues in CAMHS, who are going through the exciting stage of being able to develop a new inpatient unit for adolescents. I was also able to meet with key members of the Trust, including their inspiring Chair, Mary St Aubyn.

A group of employers from across the whole breadth of the Trust listened patiently to me whilst I laid out my vision for a campaign on ‘resilience and recovery’. I think we also had one of the best honest, open and frank discussions on the part that psychiatrists should play within NHS Foundation organisations, and in particular, how we have to be key in explaining to commissioners what we do - whatever the future may hold for the structure and framework of the commissioning processes. It was also particularly good to meet with fellow psychiatrists - many of whom I have known in other roles at the College - out in their workplace, and witness the influence they have in shaping and meeting the visions of their Trust.

For the next two weeks, I am trying to achieve a balance between what is happening in Parliament on the Health and Social Care Bill and Welfare Reform, and to get on with all my other tasks. To this end, Tom Brown and I will be presenting to the Medical Education England Board our final report on what we are doing about recruitment, which we very much hope will be accepted. There are many other meetings in my diary, but I am particularly looking forward to going to the meeting of the RCPsych in Scotland in Glasgow at the end of this week.

My mail bag at the moment, as you can imagine, is very mixed; some highly supportive and some highly critical with respect to the Health and Social Care Bill. This week, myself and the Policy Unit are trying to ensure that we glean every bit of sound evidence from the many meetings that we will be attending.

Yesterday started with the Mental Health Collaborative meeting, working with the Leads from the Royal College of Nursing, the British Psychological Society and the College of Occupational Therapists. Lucy Thorpe, Head of Policy, represented me yesterday at the Future Visions Coalition meeting.Today, I attended a meeting of the Royal Medical Colleges at the Academy. Watch out for a new statement tomorrow.

The final survey on the Health and Social Care Bill is out today (see previous Blog). We will also be putting together a survey of users and carers in the next two weeks which will be both on the Health and Social Care Bill and Welfare Reform - their ‘lived experience’ feedback is very important to us.

On Wednesday, I have a meeting with Paul Burstow MP on Public Health England and will be emphasising the important contribution we can make to this area. Lucy Thorpe and Professor Kam Bhui, our Public Health Lead, will be at this meeting with me. Our Public Affairs Manager, Will Pickering, will be attending a meeting that is being officiated by Lord Owen. And it just continues from there.

The way we can most influence policy is by having evidence of how we have scrutinised the Bill, by emphasising all the active work we are doing to make sure that whoever and whatever the framework is for commissioning, that they understand the needs of our users and carers, across mental health, health and social care.

As a College, whatever the outcome of the Bill, we want to be at the forefront of influencing and shaping Policy at every level. We are not only an England College; we are a UK College. I would therefore be very grateful for the views of the other countries about the likely impact the proposed changes in postgraduate education could have on members from across the UK.

Thank you for your continuing support and constructive criticism, and again watch out for an Academy statement tomorrow (25 January 2012).



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