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

Progress on parity

Friday, 6 July

It’s been a hectic week. I started the week meeting with chief executives and chairs of mental health trusts. Stuart Carney, Associate Dean for Educational Policy, and myself presented about recruitment into psychiatry, and what employers could do to facilitate medical student placements and tasters for Foundation doctors. They were particularly positive about the quality of newly appointed consultants, and saw them as taking a holistic view of their patients and being actively concerned about their physical health.


As you know, we’ve been leading work on parity of esteem between mental and physical health on behalf of the Paul Burstow, the Minister for Care Services. On Tuesday, in relation to this, the Head of our Policy Unit, Lucy Thorpe, and one of our Policy Analysts, Greg Smith, came with me to meet Professor Sir Mike Richards, National Cancer Director and National Clinical Director for End of Life Care. We had a really productive discussion exploring among other things parity of measurement for mental health, using the range of data sets held on cancer patients (which include but don’t analyse mental health) as an example. He had read the whole of our parity of esteem briefing, and said how helpful it was. So, there’s a very simple message here – we need to get the facts about mental health out across medicine. We really hope we can take some work forward with Sir Mike, and get trainee psychiatrists involved. Top of the list will be smoking cessation programmes for our patients.


On Wednesday, I met with Roger Graef, chief executive of documentary company Films on Record. He has made many cutting edge, informed and non-sensationalised documentaries in the field of health, mental health, social care, fostering and adoption.


On Thursday, I presented the College’s interim report on parity of esteem to the Ministerial Advisory Group, which was well received. So many thanks to all the members and stakeholders who have contributed to it so far, and of course to Lucy and Greg. There is lots more to do, but if we could deliver on just three priorities for parity of esteem we could make a real difference. Yesterday, I was also pleased to hear that I had been elected one of the two new Vice-Presidents of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. I'm very pleased that my fellows Presidents at the Academy have entrusted mewith this, and I will be asking them to look at parity of esteem at our next meeting.


Today, I was privileged to be part of the first medical student psychiatry summer school in Preston - a joint venture between our North West Division and the North Western Deanery School of Psychiatry, hosted by Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust. I met an enthusiastic and diverse group of medical students, at different stages of their carees. Their questions reflected they would be great additions to our psychiatry family - thoughtful, challenging and typified by intelligent kindness. So great thanks to all those who organised the summer school, and came to share their experience of being a psychiatrist. Meeting the medical students has been good for my CPD!

I will spend the weekend with family, and getting ready for our International Congress next week. All this week, the College has been a sea of bright pink packing crates, ready for our temporary migration to Liverpool. I'm sure I'll see many of you there.  And finally, I don’t want to speak too soon, but I may have good news on the roof shortly...


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