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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Powerful speeches and a royal appointment

Royal Appointment

Party time

I have now completed my first three months as President and am well into my fourth. I have chaired two of the 12 council meetings that will happen during my term of office. And best of all I’m finally enjoying it.

I had a crash course in politics by attending three Party conferences: Liberal Democrats, Conservatives and Labour.

I had to learn to digest briefing documents with College positions and key messages on a wide variety of issues.

I went to a huge number of “round tables” where I sat at what were definitely rectangular tables and desperately tried to get a chance to say my piece.

I even gave a speech at a fringe health event at the Conservative conference.


Powerful and moving

We hosted a roundtable event on crisis care in mental health services, with a focus on the Government’s plans for reforming the Mental Health Act, at both the Labour and Conservative conferences.

One of the members of our service users’ forum spoke very powerfully and movingly of what it is like to be detained.

She described her feelings about the loss of dignity and control and how difficult it is to be a patient on wards where everyone is acutely and severely unwell. We had wide ranging discussions about what might need to change.


Review of the Mental Health Act

At the Conservative conference, the Prime Minister announced the setting up of a review of the Mental Health Act, chaired by Professor Sir Simon Wessely.

He will produce an interim report in early 2018 and develop a final report containing detailed recommendations, by Autumn 2018.

We will be liaising closely with him as he starts work on what will be a challenging project. We are currently analysing the membership survey on the MHA.

One of the clear findings is that Members believe the rising rate of detention is due to reduction in community resources that make it hard to offer an alternative.

Read further information on the review on the government’s website.


Highest trainee pass rate

At the end of September, the results came out for the MRCPsych CASC Examination. The overall pass rate was 65.6% with a trainee pass rate of 81.1%.

This is the highest rate since the exam began.

The statistics have been looked at very carefully and it’s clear that those taking the exam are now of a higher standard. This is excellent news and I look forward to meeting them at a New Members Ceremony.


Buckingham Palace, please!

The highlight of my role so far was my trip to Buckingham Palace for an evening event to celebrate World Mental Health Day, accompanied by Adrian James, Kate Lovett and Kate Milward, ex-chair of the PTC.

The first thrill of the evening was saying “Buckingham Palace please” to the cab driver. The second was walking through the gates and into the Palace grounds.

I was treated as a VIP, as was Professor Dame Sue Bailey who is a past President of the College. A small group of us were taken to the beautiful White Drawing Room where William, Kate and Harry spoke to us all individually.

They were keen to find out if I thought their championship of mental health was making a difference and I reassured them that it was. Harry in particular would like to work more with the College in the future.

I then joined the rest of the guests. It was a fun evening. People who work in our field are often slightly out of the ordinary and almost always interesting. Everyone there had heard of the College and was complimentary about what we do.


Choose psychiatry

Our Choose Psychiatry recruitment campaign continues, I hope you have noticed it and seen the videos which are on our website.

Thanks to all those who have recorded a one minute message about why they love their job and posted it on twitter with the hashtag #ChoosePsychiatry.

Recruitment for 2018 opens soon and I really hope we improve our numbers this time.

Please do all you can to encourage Medical Student and Foundation Doctors and show them what a great job we have and the huge difference psychiatrists make to people’s lives.

Professor Wendy Burn


Read the October eNewsletter >>>


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I believe the 1st political job is to protect mental health services by putting an end to CRES savings (4% cut every year for ever), which are slowly suicidal for mental health services. I'd like this to be worked on before talking about extra money for mental health that never seems to reach us in the adult mental health services for severe and enduring mental health (with a few rare exceptions, like EIP money).
I hope this can be flagged up by our College President at the appropriate meetings, because most of us want this but haven't been united with one voice.
Re: Powerful speeches and a ro
Perhaps one of the reasons to consider why the majority of patients on inpatient units might be subject to the MHA is because of the enormous reduction in beds. It might be that there are not more MHA assessments but rather it seems that way because there are so few beds. Only the most severely ill or risky patients are being admitted. I would say that Crisis and Home treatment teams are increasingly providing an alternative to hospital. This might well be the choice of most patients.
Re: Powerful speeches and a ro
Should the College be recommending all M.H. Trusts to join the Open Dialogue Cluster Randomised Trial currently at the recruitment stage? (Funded by NIMH for £2.4 million))

The protocol offers free training for CMHT and Home Treatment staff. Proof of concept research in Finland has shown dramatic reductions in bed usage, reduced psychotropic use, more outright discharges, increased employment and high user satisfaction.
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Professor Wendy Burn

Professor Wendy Burn FRCPsych


Professor Wendy Burn became a consultant old age psychiatrist in Leeds in 1990 and now works fulltime in a community post. Her main clinical interest is dementia.

She has 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 between 2013 and 2016.