Electing our new President
Voting is now open for the next President of the Royal College
of Psychiatrists. All Members, Fellows and Specialist Associates
should have received an email from “Electoral Reform
Services” on the 19 December, with your unique link to
If you can’t find the email in your inbox, it may have landed in
your Junk/Spam folder.
If you still cannot find it, please contact Sue Duncan on
she can arrange for Electoral Reform Services to send you another
Read more about the candidates below. Voting closes at
12 noon on 24 January 2017.
List of candidates:
Dr Peter Aitken - Director of Research &
Development, Devon Partnership NHS Trust.
I am proud to be our Royal College
'Psychiatrist of the Year 2016'. We need growth in our specialty
and to make a career in psychiatry the most rewarding in health
care. I want to lead a confident, progressive Royal College of
Psychiatrists delivering high standards of practice and service,
based on evidence of quality and effectiveness. We should have
competition for posts, our training schemes full and undergraduate
education in psychiatry expanded.
Our current College strategy is set until 2018. The vision is to
improve the lives of people with mental illness through
patient-centred care, setting standards leading to excellence for
individual practice and services, building our workforce,
communication and engagement. I live by our values;
professionalism, fairness and inclusion, research and innovation,
ethical practice, lifelong learning and multidisciplinary
I will concentrate on building our workforce across all our
sub-specialities. We must be ready to capitalise on any expansion
of medical school places in the UK and create new training
opportunities appropriate to integrated health and social care
systems, including with the charities and independent sector. I
want to see psychiatry universally respected and valued by other
agencies for bringing expertise and benefit to their work. Our
patients and their families should always experience connection,
compassion and continuity.
I have been a member of Council for four years and understand
our College’s structures and processes. I meet regularly with the
other Faculty and Divisional Chairs and understand their
priorities, pressures and ambitions.
As Chair of the Faculty of Liaison Psychiatry I have worked
closely with governments, NHS, Royal Colleges, media and the major
charities establishing the specialty in policy. Our Faculty program
has developed models of care, commissioning tools, outcome
measures, an additional endorsement for old age trainees, bursaries
and a credentialing pilot to enable the workforce. It is a success
made possible by collective leadership and supporting many others
across the College to do the work. I believe this experience and
the contacts I have made can be shared across the College,
strengthening our influence in policy and improving services for
all people with mental health problems.
First appointed consultant at Southwest London and St George’s,
I am now Clinical Director for out of area care based in Exeter and
national mental health adviser to Lifeboats. I am aware of the
scale and specialist nature of practice in London and in England’s
major centres and divisions and have spent time with colleagues in
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to understand how the devolved
nations work differs and needs to be supported by the College
differently. I have talked to colleagues in the Overseas Divisions
and found engagement and interest, particularly about supporting
our international workforce in the UK and creating new
opportunities for people to come.
Our College is richer for the diversity of interests and talents
in our membership in the UK and around the world. As President I
will stand for all of us and bring College support to our work
wherever we are.
Dr JS Bamrah - Consultant in General Adult
and Old Age Psychiatry; Medical Director, Manchester Mental Health
and Social Care Trust; Honorary Reader, University of
I have experience in several policy areas and across
multi-professional and leadership domains.
I’ve served the College at several levels: Council (2004-11);
Director of CPD (2007-2012; designed and delivered a modern CPD
policy and online submission); Regional Adviser (2002-2007); I
served the College’s and BMA’s Ethics (and other) committees for
Director BMA (2016-); Council observer/member, BMA (2011-);
Secondary care Consultant, Tameside & Glossop Commissioning
Group (2013-16); Executive Director, Manchester Academic Health
Science Centre (2013-); Trustee, African Caribbean Mental Health
charity (2014-). I’ve frequently written in newspapers and featured
on Radio/TV several times. I’ve advised/challenged politicians and
leaders, on health matters.
Thirty-five years in the NHS and still enjoying!
My background (born in Tanzania, did medicine in India) has
affirmed my convictions for the principles of NHS. My undiminished
enthusiasm for psychiatry stems from wonderful early experiences in
medical school. Of course there were challenges, especially in
recent years as I tried to balance aspirations of colleagues while
we struggled with increasing demand and diminishing NHS budgets. I
understand these pressures both as clinician and manager.
Valuing our workforce
I will address the problems of recruitment and retention of
consultants, as well as the issues relating to our Staff and
Associate Specialists (SAS) and International Medical
Consultants feel overburdened and burnt out, SAS doctors feel
undervalued and frustrated by the lack of career progression,
trainees are demoralised by an imposed contract and IMGs feel
unwanted or nervous post-Brexit. I will work with the Registrar and
Dean to strengthen our strategies.
My priorities as President will be to improving trainees’ morale
and increase the number of doctors undertaking foundation
We need to increase our undergraduate and foundation year
placements in psychiatry to meet demands of recruitment and ensure
juniors’ training remains a priority over service delivery.
I will campaign tirelessly to ensure parity in funding.
The economic cost of mental illness to UK is £105bn, similar to
the entire NHS Budget. Mental health problems cost the NHS at least
£10bn each year in physical care costs alone. All four nations face
similar challenges. Poor commissioning has resulted in
fragmentation of services, affecting patient care.
Recommendations in the Crisp report will remain a high priority
and I will commission work to determine the number of beds
Bed numbers in psychiatry have fallen without corresponding
increase in community resource. Poor access to CAMHS, adult and old
age beds has become the norm. I will work to resolve this
I will work with academics on promoting research with
commissioners and politicians to understand the challenges,
Mental health research continues to lose out with just 5.5% of
research funding going to mental health compared to a share of the
total disease burden of about 23%.
Psychiatry is the most exciting of all medical specialties. I
promise to serve you well, to address the challenges we face, work
on new areas of need and make parity a reality. Please support.
Dr Wendy Burn - Consultant Old Age
I became a Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist in
Leeds in 1990 and work fulltime in a community post.
I have been involved in postgraduate training since I started as
a consultant and have held many roles in Education. I set up the
Yorkshire School of Psychiatry and was the first Head of
My main clinical interest is dementia. I have held a Regional
leadership role in this area from 2011 and was Co-clinical Lead for
Dementia for Yorkshire and the Humber Strategic Clinical Network
2013-16. I sit on National Groups for the planning of dementia
On behalf of the College I have been an examiner, Senior
Organiser of clinical examinations, Deputy Convenor, Regional
Co-ordinator for CPD and the Deputy Lead for National Recruitment.
I am currently the Co-chair of the Gatsby Wellcome Neuroscience
I was College Dean from 2011 to 2016. As Dean I led a review of
the MRCPsych examination which is now more affordable, fair, valid
and relevant to clinical practice. I increased recruitment into
psychiatry. The extra numbers are small but against a background of
fewer doctors entering specialty training. I introduced more
support from the College for International Medical Graduates. The
College moved from a rented unsuitable building to one that is
owned and is fit for purpose at no extra cost to members. I’ve
developed relationships with influential people both Nationally and
Internationally. I understand how the College works and what needs
to change. I value the views of members.
My priorities are:
Hold the Government to account on funding
Despite the Government’s stated target of increased mental
health spending many Clinical Commissioning Groups are cutting
mental health budgets in 2016/2017 as in the past two years. Money
is also diverted to the third sector. We must have more funding for
direct clinical care.
Promote Integrated Care
We need to move beyond Parity of Esteem so that mental health
care is not only as good as physical health care but is delivered
as part of an integrated approach to health and social
This has improved but needs more work. Engaging medical students
and Foundation doctors is key to success.
I will support psychiatrists at every level. Our contribution
must be fully recognised. I will tackle stress factors such as the
lack of beds and the blame culture. I will reduce the bureaucratic
load including “Clustering” for Payment by Results which is hugely
time consuming but with no patient benefit. I will address the
massive burden of inspection which must be made more efficient. I
will help retired members who still want to contribute.
The current morale amongst trainees is the worst I have known
it. I have years of experience of working with them and have their
confidence. I will ensure that they are supported and valued
by the College.
My track record demonstrates that I deliver. If elected I will
work tirelessly until Psychiatry is again the interesting and
rewarding profession that I love.
Professor Rob Poole - Professor of Social
Psychiatry, Centre for Mental Health and Society, Bangor
University. Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist, Betsi Cadwaladr
University Health Board, North Wales.
I am a General Adult Psychiatrist.
I was a Consultant in inner-city Liverpool for 16 years,
followed by five years in rural Wales.
Throughout my career, I have worked to develop good services for
marginalised groups, such as homeless people and “dual-diagnosis”
My academic interests eventually led me to my current post at
Bangor University, where I co-founded the Centre for Mental Health
and Society in 2012.
I have published widely (the second edition of “Psychiatric
Interviewing and Assessment” is in press) and I have established
international collaborations, for example, a suicide prevention
programme in Mysore, south India. I write a popular blog.
I am involved in research and debate on the relationship between
religion and clinical practice. Clarity over professional
boundaries is the key to protecting patients.
I have experience of policy development as an adviser to bodies
in England and in Wales (for example, the Law
As Chair of the College in Wales from 2012 to 2016, I achieved
significant improvement in our influence on the Welsh Government,
NHS Wales, and other policymakers. I strengthened the standing of
Wales within the College, including the creation of Celtic
Vice-Presidents from 2015.
As Specialist Adviser for the College Invited Review Service
since 2013, I have developed its work on the basis of understanding
the current severe pressures on mental health
As a member of the College Finance Management Committee since
2014, I have played a part in improved financial governance. I
deputise for the Treasurer.
In difficult times, the President’s most important roles are to
lead College policy development and to guide the tone of its public
Our discipline has deep bio-medical roots but it is also an
applied psychological and social science. We must assertively
promote a public understanding of the full scope and effectiveness
of our work. We must challenge misinformation about psychiatric
Recruitment remains a crucial issue. We must work to support
retention of junior and senior psychiatrists, including those with
carer or parental responsibilities.
Sustained therapeutic relationships that take patients’ full
circumstances and history into account achieve better outcomes.
Continuity of care, and care pathways with fewer changes of
clinician and team, would facilitate this and would improve job
satisfaction for psychiatrists.
Widening social inequalities, cuts to benefits and deteriorating
services are harmful. We need to challenge these to prevent mental
illness and promote mental health.
We must focus more attention on the neglected group of severely
ill people with rehabilitation needs. It is shameful that we still
have a disorganised “virtual asylum”, involving long fruitless
stays in acute beds and widespread use of placements far from home.
We must also find better ways of assisting people with common
We must build on our links with patients, carers and mental
health interest groups to deliver clear messages to influence
policy across the UK.
Mental illness is a public health issue that requires global
responses. Despite Brexit, relationships with international
colleagues are important and must be nurtured.
Dr James Warner - Consultant Psychiatrist
and Honorary Reader, Central North West London Foundation
Once upon a time, there was a Royal
College. It was run rather along the lines of a quaint
country club, relying on subscriptions from members to fund its
activities and relying on the volunteering and goodwill of its
members to get its work done. For a long time, this College
prospered, but the world around it began to
Dark forces began to assemble. Battles needed to be fought, and
won. Battles against politicians, policy makers,
commissioners, research funders, clinicians in other disciplines,
and the press. All of these groups appeared biased against
the work of the College, and the patients and clinicians it
represented. Despite success in raising the profile of the
College, and forming alliances with other organisations, many
members felt demoralised and undervalued.
The College found it increasingly difficult to fight these dark
forces. Rather than being unified, it was divided by
Divisions and Faculties. This matrix structure dissipated energy
and focus. The lack of a proper funding base undermined its
ability to mount successful campaigns. Countries outside of
England that the College served always felt left out. Slowly
but surely the interests that the College sought to represent were
undermined and dismantled. As the members watched helplessly
from the side-lines, services were cut, morale suffered and
trainees fled from the specialty....
But then a new College emerged. Firstly, it became
financially stronger. In common with most charities it established
a professional funding team to explore alternative revenue sources.
It no longer relied on member’s subscriptions for
The College realised that to campaign and advocate effectively
it must use some of the new revenue to employ key leaders, such as
faculty chairs and the national leaders in Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland. Working a day a week for the College, these
leaders would have time and resources to harness their talents and
enthusiasm, but also be accountable in their role. Instead of
ad hoc meetings once a quarter at College council, each faculty
chair and national lead would meet monthly with the College
Officers (and not always in London) to coordinate plans, share
ideas and work together. The College became the servant of the
united faculties, not their master.
The College realised that its very survival relied on adequate
numbers of trainees entering the speciality. It knew that the new
dynamic structure of the College and improved status of the
profession would significantly improve recruitment.
In short the College went from amateur player to professional
force. This College was able to fight effectively to combat
the stigma that pervaded its world, to improve recruitment, improve
services for its members, and most importantly for the patients it
represented. A College fit for the 21st
Vote for me if you want that College!
James Warner is an old age psychiatrist, educator, academic,
manager, leader and entrepreneur.