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

Paul Burstow meeting

Tuesday, 26 June

Yesterday I had another productive meeting in Parliament with Paul Burstow and some of his Lib Dem colleagues. The room we ended up in was very high up in the Palace of Westminster and repairs were taking place to a leaky section of roof which, given my recent problems at home, I tried not to take personally!

The meeting, which was also attended by colleagues from Mind, gave me the chance to continue to push for more integration of services and flag up the College’s ongoing work on commissioning. As well as the opportunities around commissioning regarding mental health, I raised my genuine concerns about commissioning for vulnerable groups and the danger of people falling through the gaps in the system. I also raised the issue of the mental health problems in those with long term physical conditions not being picked up and the knock on effect for those effected and the wider NHS.

Parity of esteem was high on the agenda and our work in this area continues. On education, I made the point that whilst we were pleased that GP training was to be extended and given more a mental health focus, it was vital for medical students spend to more time looking at psychiatry during their rotation. This would not only lead to an increase in students wishing to become psychiatrists (who wouldn’t!) but would mean that even those that decided to specialise in other areas would be better equipped to consider the psychological aspects of patient care.

I am very pleased to see that there seems to be genuine cross party support for the Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill, to repeal three areas of discrimination against those with mental health conditions relating to MPs, jurors and company directors. The College has worked on the Bill since it was originally introduced in the Lords by Dennis Stevenson last year, and I look forward to its first full debate in the Commons on 14 September.

We left through Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Parliamentary estate, and I was informed that tennis balls from the time of Henry VII were found in the roof when it was last repaired. As Wimbledon fortnight gets under way, let’s hope for the sake of the tennis (and my roof!) that we all see some bright weather over the next few days.


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