Professor Pamela Jane Taylor CBE
2019 Presidential candidates
For wider membership involvement in the College’s strategic direction, exposing the costs of government austerity, rebuilding research potential and esteem for psychiatry, safeguarding our range of expertise while training collaboratively.
My video statement
My supporting statement
Greater membership influence
For the past two years I have had the privilege of chairing the College’s Faculty chairs. I have learned so much about the depth of expertise and drive across the College’s membership. One of my priorities is to see the College draw on this much, much more. Under current regulations, the chief executive, after consultation with the officers, gives a draft College 3-5 year strategy to Council for more-or-less immediate approval. I want a new system to get the full membership involved, with added input from faculties, special interest groups, regional and country representatives.
Building esteem for psychiatrists
Having had extensive experience as a clinician, researcher, teacher and manager at various times in my career, I value each role. No medical specialty will be respected for long, however, without substantial treatment advances. These can only happen from clinically informed research, with everyone (who wants to) contributing. There is evidence that opportunity to be part of research is a key factor in retaining doctors. Research is only possible from a strong academic base, but this has been weakened around the country. My vision sees the College taking a leading role in restoring our power in that respect.
Safeguarding and growing resources
I am a forensic and adult general psychiatrist. There is no specialty untouched by government austerity, and this has cost lives. From forensic psychiatry, we have been battling ‘cost savings’ in prisons in England and Wales, which were followed by the highest ever prisoner suicide, self-harm and violence rates, unprecedented prisoner access to drugs, and solitary confinement of troubled young people with neurodevelopment disorders. Staff numbers are being restored, but expertise has been lost. In other specialties, waiting times for understaffed services may mask such horrors. I want us all to be able to make economically informed arguments about the money wasted in false economies across the UK.
Expertise when it is needed
Some specialties have been particularly harmed by ‘the market economy’. The UK has never had greater need for substance misuse expertise. There are important decisions to be taken about legalisation of some drugs. Increasingly, people presenting to mental health services have comorbidities. It is rare for people to be able to access expert help for addictions – this is even adding burden to older age services. Another priority for me is to see substantial growth in specialist psychiatric substance misuse services.
The centrality of psychiatry
Psychiatry is at the centre of medicine and wellbeing. Its natural links spread much further. At a time of curriculum review and General Medical Council pressure to take ‘a more flexible approach to training’, we must embrace shared opportunities within and beyond our own specialties, while safeguarding the true expertise needed for effective collaboration with patients, other professional disciplines and agencies. As a member of the American Psychiatric Association and various European groups, I also want to capitalise on overseas links to ensure that whatever happens with EU membership we continue developing and leading in a strong human rights framework.