Features and updates 

Keep up to date with RCPsych NI through our Chair's updates, activity logs and members' contributions.

Perinatal Services for Northern Ireland

Perinatal services for Northern Ireland
Perinatal Services for Northern Ireland

More lives will be saved thanks to funding being rolled out for specialist perinatal services. Northern Ireland lagged behind the rest of the UK when it came to specialist perinatal services – with no specialist community teams in four of the five health trusts and no mother and baby unit.

Last May, Health Minister Robin Swann announced funding for community perinatal teams as part of a package of measures in the Mental Health Action Plan. Thankfully, that promise has been kept with a cash injection of around £4.7m for the health and social care trusts to develop specialist community perinatal teams for new mothers.

Dr Julie Anderson, chair of our Perinatal Committee, RCPsych NI, said: “After years of campaigning, we’re ecstatic to see this life-changing and indeed life-saving funding announced, and we would like to express our sincere appreciation to the Health Minister, especially at a time when the pandemic is stretching health services.

“Pregnancy and the early postnatal period for many mothers is a fabulous time of life, but it is a period in life when women are most at risk of developing a new mental illness or experience a relapse of a pre-existing one."

As a College, this is an excellent development, particularly for those members who have campaigned tirelessly over the years. It would be remiss of us not to pay tribute to both Dr Janine Lynch and Dr Julie Anderson, whose leadership and dedication has finally been rewarded, as well as the partner organisations who have been involved in campaigning in the recent past.

Help Inform Mental Health Services in NI

You will be aware that the Minister for Health launched the draft 10-Year Mental Health Strategy on 21 December 2020. This is a significant development as it will inform the direction of travel for all of mental health services for the next ten years. RCPsych NI has welcomed the document which is now out for consultation.

At this stage, our experience and expertise are vital to ensuring that the approach is sound and that the Action Plan and funding implications are likely to improve outcomes in mental health across the lifespan by developing effective practice and services in partnership with the public and partner agencies.

As Chair, I want to encourage you to get involved. We are uniquely placed to comment on the full range of mental health service needs, but we rely on your contribution to achieve this. Involvement will include reading the draft strategy and bringing forward comments for discussion. We will hold a meeting in early February to discuss what has been submitted and use this to shape our response.

Dr Richard Wilson, FRCPsych, Chair of RCPsych in NI & Vice President RCPsych

Please contact Thomas McKeever a the College for more information.

Success for Beechcroft PRN Project


The College extends its congratulations to the Beechcroft psychotropic PRN medication project, which won Highly Commended (2nd place) in the Innovation in Quality Improvement category in the BMJ Awards. 

Speaking afterwards, Dr Claire Kelly said, "The project improved quality of care for young people.  We achieved statistically significant reductions in PRN use, which has been sustained for the past two years.

The results reflect the multidisciplinary team’s ongoing commitment to improving patient care. We are absolutely delighted with the recognition and so proud of the team’s hard work."

Pictured above are Fiona McCarry (Acting Ward Sister), Nicola Johnston (Acting Ward Sister), Dr Claire Kelly (Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist) and Dr Lisa Montgomery (Specialty Dr).

Additional Medical School places a “timely and practical boost” says RCPsych NI Chair


RCPsych NI Chair, Dr Richard Wilson, has welcomed the news that Queen's University is to admit an additional 80 medical students after funding was secured at Stormont by the Health Minister, Robin Swann.  The announcement comes in the wake of the findings of the 2019 Gardiner Report, which found that Northern Ireland required at least 100 additional medical students per year to meet the increasing demand for doctors.

In overall terms, that will increase the number of students studying to become doctors in Belfast by 30% over a two-year period, with over 300 medical students being based in the city by September 2021. The news comes shortly after Ulster University received GMC approval to begin recruiting 70 graduate students to begin a four-year medical degree course in 2021.

Dr Wilson said, “This is a very timely and practical boost for the medical profession in Northern Ireland and the Minister should be commended for securing the extra funding. Workforce planning is one of our key strategies and this comes at an opportune time for the College as we lobby for an increase in the number of psychiatry training places to meet the ever-increasing demand." 

“RCPsych NI will continue to work in partnership with the medical schools to ensure that the needs of mental health services and patients are met effectively, and that Northern Ireland continues to produce a world class workforce to deliver our health services," added Dr Wilson. 

A big thank you to Patricia!

Patricia Vinchenzo’s term as President of QUB Psychsoc came to an end in July 2020. 

We would like to formally thank Patricia for all the support and hard work she has committed to the role and wish her all the best as she completes her final year at QUB.    

From August 2020 Isabella Conti will take over as incoming President and Cara Wardman, as incoming Vice President.  Isabella has also received one of 10 places across the RCPsych as an undergraduate ‘Psych Star’ and will commence this role from September 2020.

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