A new president has been elected by the Royal College of
Professor Wendy Burn will take over from Professor Sir
Simon Wessely in June.
She was elected after a 33.1% turnout, a huge increase on the
College’s last presidential elections.
Professor Burn, an old age psychiatrist, is the College’s
15th president and will be its figurehead for the next three
Professor Burn said: “I am honoured to have been elected
“I know what it’s like on the frontline of psychiatry and how
difficult it has become. The current morale amongst trainees is the
worst I have known it, but as president I will ensure that they are
supported and valued by the College.
“There is still so much stigma surrounding the profession.
Psychiatry is an incredibly rewarding and important profession, and
we must work hard to challenge the negative views that still
Chief executive Paul Rees said: “I have very much enjoyed
working with our president Sir Simon Wessely, who has been an
inspirational leader for the profession for the past three
“However, I congratulate Wendy on winning what was a keenly
fought election to replace him and I very much look forward to
working with her to promote the voice of psychiatry and the needs
of service users.”
Sir Simon, who was elected in 2014, said: “It has been an honour
to serve the College as President over the last three years. A huge
congratulations to Wendy on being elected. I hope she will love
being president as much as I have."
More about the President-elect
Wendy Burn grew up in a medical family and always knew she
wanted to be a doctor.
Her interest in psychiatry developed during her time spent as a
houseman on a medical ward.
An early psychiatric placement was with the elderly and she
found herself drawn towards this group.
Professor Burn said: “I loved getting to know my patients,
and hearing the fascinating stories of their lives.”
Professor Burn became a consultant old age psychiatrist in
Leeds in 1990 and now works full time 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.
She also sits on national groups for the planning of dementia
Professor Burn has been heavily involved in postgraduate
training since starting as a consultant and has held many roles in
education, including setting up the Yorkshire School of Psychiatry
and becoming the first head of school.
She was a senior organiser of clinical examinations at the
College, deputy convenor, regional co-ordinator for continuing
professional development and the deputy lead for national
She co-chairs the Gatsby Wellcome Neuroscience Project, aimed at
reworking the core training curriculum for psychiatry trainees.
From 2011 to 2016 she was College Dean.
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