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

My week of meetings

Friday, 16 September 2011

Earlier this week, I participated in a seminar about classifications of mental disorders. There was informed debate from many members on progress with ICD11 and DSM5, and how we will deal with the challenges of a new system. Dr Mike Crawford, the new head of the College’s Centre for Quality Improvement, gave an interesting update on the progress of the personality disorder working group.

On Wednesday, I had another in what has been a series of meetings with the policy unit at the Centre for Social Justice. Several members of the College have been involved in the Centre’s recent work and publications, relating to mental health, young offenders and the elderly. I now have hopes for closer liaison. Dr Nori Graham, one of our Honorary Fellows, is working on the challenges to the elderly, the impact of social isolation and poverty. There are often simple, effective, local solutions – and I know that many of you are already involved in and working on these aspects of care.

After this meeting, I attended a mental health summit on the Mental Health Strategy. Representatives from more than 40 mental health and social care organisations crammed into a room to share concerns about how services are being cut – and in particular the impact on smaller, third sector organisations that provide support to many of our service users and carers. We are concerted in our efforts to monitor what is happening and to influence government at all levels. The College’s Registrar, Dr Laurence Mynors-Wallis, has just sent out a questionnaire to all Medical Directors on the impact of cuts in mental health services. We hope this will capture what providers are planning to do, not just in the short-term but also in the medium-term.

Yesterday, I spent time with other medical royal college Presidents at an away day. High on our agenda was NHS reform and the Health and Social Care Bill. The discussions were robust, but gradually we found a consensus and will be preparing a briefing for the House of Lords. Concerns about the proposed reforms are similar across the Colleges. Foremost is whether this Bill, as it stands, will increase health inequalities. We also discussed issues of education and training, and the future role of Colleges and Deaneries.

On my way back to Belgrave Square, I bumped into Juliet Lyon, an old friend and director of the Prison Reform Trust. The Trust wants us to join them in supporting the drive to bring mentally-disordered offenders out of custody and into effective community-based programmes

Today is a meeting of College Council. Council Members will hear from Dr Tom Brown, our new associate registrar, about his plans for recruitment. I also hope that our Faculties and Divisions will start to look at interfaces between specialties, ages and geographical areas – and consider how we can better deliver integrated continuity of care.

On Saturday evening I fly to Buenos Aires for the 15th World Congress of Psychiatry, organised by the World Psychiatric Association (WPA). I will spend the time searching and seeking out relevant projects and ideas in other countries from which we can learn. As many of you will know Dinesh, our immediate Past-President, is standing for President of the WPA. I’m sure you’ll all join me in wishing him the very best of luck.  

I look forward to updating you again next week from Argentina.


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Please meet SU forum
You have a busy schedule but I think you should find time to meet the members of the service user and carer forums - two forums run and paid for by the RCP.

We come from all over the country. Our groups include lots of different perspectives. We speak our minds. You need to hear us.

The RCP pays for us to be there so you should make the most of our expertise. Without us service users you would have no jobs. Now there is a thought.

Re: My week of meetings
Thanks for your comments, Beatrice. When I was Registrar of the College, from 2005-2009, I was instrumental in establishing both these Forums. I strongly believe in the importance of service user and carer involvement and, as the Registrar, supported and regularly attended the Forum meetings.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend this week's meeting as I am representing our members at the World Psychiatric Association's 15th Congress in Argentina. But I always receive updates about what is discussed at SURF and Carers meetings, and take the Forums' views on board at all times. I hope to attend more meetings in future.

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