Patients and Carers Committee 

The involvement of patients/service users and carers is vital for the work of the College. To make use of the valuable experience of patients and carers, we invite representatives to join the Executive Committees of Faculties and Divisions, as well as other College committees. These volunteers attend meetings and provide their insight on the work of that committee.

We then bring together these representatives from across the College to form the Patients and Carers Committee (PCC). The aim of this committee is to provide a place for patients and carers to network, share information about their work with the College and gain ideas which they can then take back to their committees.

At PCC meetings, we also hold plenary sessions where Members or College staff can present on their current research or projects, and get valuable feedback from patients and carers.

The Co-Chairs of the PCC sit on the Council to ensure that the voices of patients and carers are considered at a senior level. 

Welcome from the Registrar

Dr Adrian James

“Thank you for finding the webpages of the Patients and Carers Committee of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

The College exists to improve the lives and outcomes for the people we serve; the people who use our services and those who care for them. Our work would not be possible without the dedication and energy of service users and carers who work with the College to co-produce our work. We are fortunate to have good links with external stakeholder groups such as Mind and Rethink and value working in partnership with them. Any one of us may experience mental health difficulties at any time in our lives… and we welcome the enriching input of experts by experience.

I hope you find the website useful and informative.”

When there is a vacancy for a patient or carer representative on a College committee, we will post it here. If you would like us to contact you when new vacancies become available, please email membership.operations@rcpsych.ac.uk.

We pay travel and subsistence expenses to our volunteers as well as remuneration for their time based on the level of involvement and required effort.

Current Vacancies:

London Division - Patient Rep  (Closing date 18th January)

South Eastern Division - Patient and Carer Reps  (Closing date 18th January)

If you are interested in a role, please download the application pack and complete the enclosed application forms, these can be emailed to membership.operations@rcpsych.ac.uk

If you are a Member of the College, or a member of staff, and would like to present to the PCC on a current project to gain their feedback, please contact membership.operations@rcpsych.ac.uk and we can discuss this further with you.

The Patients and Carers Committee meet up to three times a year. The 2019 meeting dates are:

  • 13 February
  • 19 June
  • 20 November

The Patients Forum (also known as the Service Users Forum) and the Carers Forum are the working titles of the two groups constituting the Patients and Carers Committee. The two forums will consist of:

  1. Three Co-Chairs:
    1. The Associate Registrar for Public Engagement
    2. The Member appointed to assist the Associate Registrar
    3. The patient representative (for the Patients / Service Users Forum) and the carer representative (for the Carers Forum), appointed to be the Co-Chairs of the Patient and the Carers Committee
  2. The Registrar (ex-officio); and
  3. The patient representatives of the Patient and Carers Committee for the Patient / Service Users Forum; and the carer representatives of the Patient and Carers Committee for the Carers Forum respectively

See the list of current members of the Patients and Carers Committee

Co-Chairs of the Patients and Carers Committee

Here are the profiles of some of our current members:

Dr Tony Rao

Associate Registrar of Public Engagement

Dr Rao is a community consultant old age psychiatrist who has worked in an inner city area of London for the past 19 years. He has been a strong advocate of improving services for older people with alcohol misuse and other mental disorders accompanying substance misuse (dual diagnosis); having developed the first dual diagnosis service for older people at South London and Maudsley NHS Trust.

Coming from a family of doctors, with both parents having been community doctors (geriatrics and learning disability) and having first-hand experience of having a brother with severe and enduring mental health problems, Dr Rao is a strong advocate of abolishing stigma and addressing social disadvantage.

Having completed 3 research degrees and also being a consultant and care coordinator at a clinical level, he has seen the benefits of translating unmet need into real policy change.

Dr Rao believes in the collective voice of patients and carers in making a difference to improving mental health services and changing public attitudes to mental illness.

Noel McKenna

Acting Co-Chair of the Carers’ Forum

Michelle Long

Co-Chair of the Carers’ Forum

Robert Milligan

Co-Chair of the Service Users’ Forum

For over 20 years Robert has been involved in Mental Health support services. With a wish to try and eradicate the stigma and discrimination associated with Mental Health, he spends a lot of his time dealing with service users in a supportive role both in Northern Ireland and further afield. Originally trained as a Counsellor, Robert has a vast experience in issues affecting men and in particular Anger Management.

In his current role as an Independent Advocate, Robert supports patients through Mental Health Review Tribunals and helps them navigate their way around the court process with family and childcare procedures. Robert worked alongside Lord Crisp on the recent Commission to review the provision of acute inpatient psychiatric care for adults, in the role of Commissioner. Here he represented the service user perspective and used his experience of Mental Health services to highlight the need for the review. He sits on the Northern Ireland Division Committee as Service User representative.

Members of the Patients and Carers Committee

Alain Aldridge

Current professional commitments;
•         Patient Representative on the Royal College of Psychiatrists Forensic Psychiatry Faculty Executive
•         Patient representative on the Royal College of Psychiatrists Service Users and Carers forum
•         Director at Recovery 7 Ltd, a Social Enterprise and Service User Led Organisation
 

I graduated from Nottingham University in 1995 with a degree in engineering (2.2). I spent the next seven years working as a sales engineer. Unfortunately, I developed a mental illness and committed an offence, was admitted to a secure hospital where I spent several years detained under the Mental Health Act.

Whilst in hospital I became a Ward representative, responsible for voicing the opinions of other service users at patient and staff meetings, and helping to initiate change. I was also involved in the Koestler Arts scheme, winning several prizes.

Between 2007 and 2018, I was appointed as a service user expert with the Quality Network for Forensic Mental Health Services (QNFMHS), supporting the service user telephone conferences held between the appointed representative and in-patients at MSU units and also peer review visits which involve a quality review that shares the best professional practice with units.

In November 2010, along with a number of other service users, I established Recovery 7 Ltd, a service user led organisation providing services to the healthcare sector. The services that we offer via Recovery7 include a bi-annual newsletter and a service user handbook. We also offer talks and presentations on subjects such as Hope, Recovery, WRAP, and Recovery Star. 

Rachel Bannister

Rachel Bannister works as a supply teacher at a local Primary School but also works as a mental health campaigner. Her eldest daughter suffers from anxiety and depression as well as an eating disorder. In 2016 her daughter was sent over 300 miles for specialist treatment for anorexia nervosa. This situation caused enormous stress to both her daughter and the rest of the family but was also what led Rachel to speak out about the appalling state of our mental health services.

She has done radio interviews on the Today programme as well as 5live and two television news pieces with Channel 4 News and Victoria Macdonald. Last year she took part in the Channel 4 documentary ‘Wasting Away’ with Mark Austin and his daughter Maddy. This film looked at the postcode lottery of care for the treatment of eating disorders. More recently Rachel wrote an open letter to the secretary of state for health Jeremy Hunt which led to a meeting with him in January 2018. Rachel wrote an account of this meeting which was published in The Sunday Times. She also spoke on radio 4 The World at One to highlight not only the dreadful lack of continuity of care for those suffering with eating disorders, but also the worrying lack of consistency in the treatment that is offered throughout the UK. Rachel is currently organising a conference in Nottingham entitled ‘Mental Health- time for action’ which will take place 19thMay 2018 at Nottingham University.

Jayne Brown

Jayne has a degree in Psychology and is a member of British Psychological Society; she has worked within adult education and has recently become an expert by experience with the CQC. She cares for her son who has borderline personality disorder and ADHD. Her experience is as follows:

ADHD, the problems getting diagnosed and the negative way it is perceived

The CAMHS service and the difficulties accessing it and maintaining sufficient support

Issues within secondary school as to how they deal with children who have problems including ADHD, self-harm, drug abuse and mental illness

Adolescent drug abuse and the lack of help available, from the GP, school, social services and the police

The impact of violent and aggressive behaviour within the family home and the effect on the mental health of those involved. The realisation that the family is not safe, thus having to move our son into a hostel, despite still desperately trying to get him help

The impact of hostels on mental illness, high drug abuse and a disaster for vulnerable individuals

The inconsistent and disjointed approach within services, individuals getting lost within it

Basically setting up those who are the most vulnerable within our society to fail

Attempted suicides, laying on railway lines, closing York station, overdose, and trying to hang himself in custody

Prison and youth offender institutions, how they differ dealing with mental illness, self-harm and suicide attempts. The drug abuse within and the massive problem concerning spice

The lack of planned support on release, a system which is dysfunctional and dangerous for those suffering from poor mental health.

Diane Goslar

Diane is a qualified librarian, sociologist, and teacher and translator of French. After looking after and expanding the Dunhill Museum in London, Diane established her own public relations practice providing services mainly to London architectural practices. Her business and career were brought to an abrupt end when she became totally alcohol dependent. Over time, and with a good deal of NHS treatment and support, she detoxed and entered recovery. Since then she has been deeply involved with the Royal College of Psychiatrists in a number of aspects.

Diane is a member of a number of the College’s committees and groups. She is also a steering group member for work on alcohol-related liver disease commissioned by the NIHR, and talks on a regular basis to students at St. George’s Medical School when they are studying addiction.

Diane has written and published a number of articles for various bodies, particularly the Royal College of Psychiatrists, as well as giving presentations both nationally and within the EU.

These include:

  • Why service users need specialists
  • A patient presents
  • A perceptive and supportive iron hand  in a velvet glove
  • Recollections of a detox
  • What it is like to be an alcohol addict (presented to the European Parliament)

She has also made several podcasts, some of which can be found on our website.  

Martin Lee

Martin Lee is a retired 63 year old consultant psychiatrist, honorary senior lecturer and former director of medical education. Martin has suffered from recurrent depression and anxiety since the age of 19. He has personal experience of out-patient and in-patient care, home treatment and psychological therapies.

Martin was appointed to the Service Users Forum in September 2014 and was the User representative on the London Division until his move to Devon in December 2015.

Martin’s particular interests are the treatment of affective disorders and the management of side-effects, the commissioning of mental health services and team working in the delivery of care. His aim as a member of the Patients and Carers Committee is to give a balanced view reflecting his experience as psychiatrist, educator and service user.

Veryan Richards

Veryan contributes, as a lay participant, towards shaping the policy narrative and improving patient experience in several areas of mental health care. She is particularly interested in the balance of evidence-based practice and values-based practice in person-centred care. She is an occasional conference speaker and author of articles.

Veryan is the co-author of the College Report 204 'Core Values for Psychiatrists' with Professor Keith Lloyd.

Veryan is an Individual Partner in the Collaborating Centre for Values-based Practice in Health and Social Care, St Catherine’s College, Oxford.

Veryan was on the Task and Finish Group developing the Supporting Guidance for Spiritual and Pastoral Care for the Health and Care Standards in Wales, 2015.

Veryan is a member of the RCPsych in London  - Patients and Carers Committee; the Curriculum and Assessment Committee; RCGP and RCPsych Primary Care Mental Health Expert Group; the RCPsych in Wales - Executive Committee; Recruitment and Retention Committee; the Language Working Group; RCGP and RCPsych Primary Care Mental Health Group and the Welsh Spirituality and Mental Health Special Interest Group.