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Paul Rees MBE

Paul Rees MBE

Chief Executive Officer

Paul Rees MBE joined the Royal College of Psychiatrists as Chief Executive in November 2016 – and working with the College Honorary Officers he has led on the transformation of the organisation, a process underpinned by the rollout of a values-based approach.

Having won the Louis Armstrong CEO Leadership Award in the membership sector ‘memcom’ awards in 2020, Paul received an MBE for services to mental health, and to equality, diversity and inclusion on 1 January 2022.

Working alongside the Officers, Paul has overseen the modernisation of the organisation – leading to the transformation of College IT, stronger membership communication, more effective engagement with government and the public, and a dynamic employee relations strategy.

In 2018, Paul led the introduction of a values-based approach – driven by the values of Courage, Innovation, Respect, Collaboration, Learning and Excellence (known as the C.I.R.C.L.E values).

Being a forward-looking organisation, the College has successfully adapted to the challenges of the pandemic, becoming a virtual organisation overnight on 18 March 2020, and going on to rapidly migrate all its services and activities online, while remaining on a financially sustainable footing.

Working with former President Professor Wendy Burn CBE and current President Dr Adrian James – as well as others such as the Presidential Leads on Race and Equality Dr Shubulade Smith CBE and Dr Raj Mohan – Paul has ensured the College adopts a proactive approach to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion.

Since 2018, the College has introduced major celebrations of key diversity events – such as Pride, Black History Month, the International Day of Disabled Persons, International Women’s Day, South Asian History Month and World Mental Health Day.

It also published a radical 29-point Equality Action Plan in January 2020, which promotes equality, diversity and inclusion for College members and staff, mental health workers, and patients and carers.

The College has dramatically reduced its gender pay gap to 6.2%, down from 17% in 2019.

It has also joined the Stonewall Diversity Champions scheme and in, February 2022, won a Stonewall Silver Award for being named the 134th top employer organisation for promoting an LGBTQ+ friendly workplace.

The College won Charity of the Year in the European Diversity Awards in 2019.

The College’s stance on equality, diversity and inclusion has inspired other medical royal colleges to take a stronger position on this important issue.

It also won Highly Commended in the UK membership ‘memcom’ awards in 2021 for Best Member Support during COVID.

And won Marketing Campaign of the Year in the UK membership ‘memcom’ awards in 2020 for its successful Choose Psychiatry campaign.

Paul began his career as a journalist working at the Times, Sunday Telegraph and BBC national network news.

A move into communications saw him co-lead the successful right to roam campaign as Head of Communications at the Ramblers Association, which led to the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

Later, as Head of Campaigns and Communications at the National Housing Federation, Paul led the campaign which brought about an end to the pre-payment meter tariff charged by the 'Big Six' energy companies to low-income households for gas and electricity – saving £100m a year for less affluent families.

As Director of Communications at the Charities Aid Foundation, he ran an award-winning campaign in 2012 that successfully persuaded the Chancellor to drop his proposed 'charity tax' on large donations, a tax that would have cost the charity sector £500m per year.  

In other roles, Paul worked as Director of Communications on the Victoria Climbié and Zahid Mubarek public inquiries and held the post of Head of Communications at the Home Office.

As Director of Communications at the Association of University Teachers, he co-led a successful, national campaign to protect the pay and conditions of university lecturers. 

Meanwhile, working as Director of Policy and Engagement at the Royal College of General Practitioners, he worked with the Honorary Officers to lead the Put patients first: Back General Practice campaign – which saw the Government and NHS England publish the General Practice Forward View – which committed them to ring-fencing 11% of the NHS budget in England for general practice.

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