Paul Rees MBE
Former Chief Executive Officer, RCPsych
Paul Rees MBE was the Chief Executive Officer at the Royal College of Psychiatrists until from 2016 to 2023.
Working alongside the Officers, Paul led the introduction of a values-based approach in 2018 – underpinned by the values of Courage, Innovation, Respect, Collaboration, Learning and Excellence (known as the C.I.R.C.L.E values).
While ensuring the values-based approach is embedded across the whole organisation, Paul has overseen the modernisation of the College – leading to the transformation of College IT, enhanced services for members and more effective engagement with government, stakeholders and the public, and with members and College staff.
Being a forward-looking organisation, the College 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 Lade Smith CBE and Dr Raj Mohan – Paul has ensured the College takes 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 2.85%, down from 17% in 2019, with women now earning more on average than men. The national average gender pay gap is 15.4%.
- Its ethnicity pay gap is also exceptionally narrow, standing at 5.81%, compared to a London average of just under 24%.
- In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, Paul wrote a blog post on his experiences as a black man in the UK.
- In February 2023, the College won a Stonewall Gold Award, having been ranked the 90th top UK employer for creating an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace. This followed our winning a Stonewall Silver Award one year earlier.
- In 2019, the College won Charity of the Year in the European Diversity Awards.
- The College’s stance on equality, diversity and inclusion has inspired other Medical Royal Colleges to take a stronger position on this important issue.
- In 2022, the College won the ‘memcom’ UK membership sector award for the Best Equality, Diversity and Inclusion campaign.
The College has widely been recognised for delivering an excellent member experience.
- In 2021, it won Highly Commended in the ‘memcom’ UK membership awards for Best Member Support during COVID.
- In 2022, it won Highly Commended in the ‘memcom’ UK membership sector awards for Best Member Support During COVID-19 during the last 12-18 months.
- In 2020, the College won Marketing Campaign of the Year in the ‘memcom’ UK membership sector awards in 2020, for its successful Choose Psychiatry campaign – which has seen fill rates in core psychiatric training grow from 67% to 100% across the UK.
- In 2022, the College also won the Best Recruitment or Retention Strategy at the ‘memcom’ UK membership sector awards, after its slick campaign led to the recruitment of an incredible 301 new examiners in 2021 and 2022 for the MRCPsych exam.
- In addition, in 2022, the College won the Highly Commended award for Best Website or App and Best Member Event of The Year.
Having won the Louis Armstrong CEO Leadership Award in the ‘memcom’ UK membership sector awards in 2020, Paul received an MBE for services to mental health, and to equality, diversity and inclusion on 1 January 2022.
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, with the Climbié inquiry leading to the Children Act 2004.
He was also Head of Communications at the Home Office, working directly with ministers.
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.
The campaign also led to increased funding for general practice in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.