RCPsych NI news

RCPsych NI - Meeting Dates 2020

Northern Ireland Devolved Council - Chair: Dr Gerry Lynch

  • Wednesday 11 March at 2:00pm
  • Wednesday 17 June at 2:00pm
  • Wednesday 23 September at 2:00pm
  • Wednesday 9 December at 2:00pm

Addictions Faculty - Chair: Dr Billy Gregg

  • Wednesday 4 March at 10:00am
  • Wednesday 3 June at 10:00am
  • Wednesday 9 September at 10:00am
  • Wednesday 2 December at 10:00am

Chair and Medical Managers - Chair: Dr Gerry Lynch - ad hoc meetings

Child and Adolescent Faculty Chair: Dr Richard Wilson

  • Friday 14 February at 9:45am
  • Friday 19 June at 9:45am
  • Friday 18 September at 9:45am
  • Friday 4 December at 9:45am

Forensic Faculty - Chair: Dr Adrian East

  • Tuesday 4 February at 2:00pm
  • Tuesday 5 May at 2:00pm
  • Tuesday 8 September at 2:00pm
  • Tuesday 1 December at 2:00pm

General Adult – Chair: Dr Rowan McClean - ad hoc meetings

Informatics - Chair: Dr Stephen Moore

  • Thursday 6 February at 2:30pm
  • Thursday 21 May at 2:30pm
  • Thursday 8 October at 2:30pm

Intellectual Disability Faculty - Chair: Dr Arun Subramanian

  • Monday 17 February at 10:00am
  • Monday 18 May at 10:00am
  • Monday 7 September at 10:00am
  • Monday 30 November at 10:00am

Liaison Committee - Chair: Dr Jo Minay - ad hoc meetings

MCA Working Group - Chair: Dr Gerry Lynch - ad hoc meetings

Perinatal Faculty - Chair: Dr J Anderson - ad hoc meetings

PIPSIG - Chair: Dr John Sharkey

  • Friday 14 February at 2:00pm
  • Friday 5 June at 2:00pm
  • Friday 18 September at 2:00pm
  • Friday 4 December at 2:00pm

Psychiatry of Old Age Faculty - Chair: Dr Conor Barton

  • Friday 31 January at 4:00pm *(after joint meeting with BGS in Riddel Hall)
  • Friday 5 June at 2:00pm
  • Friday 20 November at 2:00pm

Public Engagement Committee - Chair: Vacant - ad hoc meetings

SAS and Affiliates - Chair: Dr Liz Dawson

  • Friday 7 February at 10:00am
  • Friday 15 May at 10:00am
  • Friday 11 September at 10:00am

Trainees – Chairs: Drs Amy Grimason, Laura Somerville and Fiona Martin - ad hoc meetings

Top Honours for RCPsych NI at Psychiatry Awards 

Roy NI

Friday 8 November was a red letter day for RCPsych NI as the Devolved Nation clamed three awards at RCPsych's annual awards ceremony.

Dr Liz Dawson took the honours in the Specialty Doctor or Associate Specialist of the Year Award. Liz has worked as a Specialty Doctor in Psychiatry of Old Age since 2012 and is the serving Chair of the RCPsych NI SAS group.  

In the Psychiatric Team of the Year: Quality Improvement category, the Grangewood Crisis Service, Western Health And Social Care Trust, was successful.  The Grangewood Crisis service team is made up of a multidisciplinary group of professionals including Nurses, Doctors, Social Workers and Occupational Therapists. They applied robust QI methodology and good data to bring positive change about. They made excellent progress towards an ambitious goal and have plans to further spread their good practice

However, pride of place must go to Professor Roy McClelland, whose tireless devotion to psychiatry was recognised by his peers when he was awarded RCPsych’s Lifetime Achievement Award. This is a fitting accolade and the College in NI would express its collective gratitude to Roy for his many decades of excellent service. 

Northern Ireland's bed occupancy rate putting pressure on community-based services leading to concerns for patient safety

6 November

A high bed occupancy rate for mental health services in Northern Ireland is putting extra strain on vital services leading to concerns for patient safety, say the Royal College of Psychiatrists NI. 

Latest research by RCPsych reveals, a high bed occupancy rate coupled with a large reduction in bed numbers for mental health patients during the past ten years. 

Between 2009/10 to 2018/10 the total number of beds for all mental illness fell by 46.2%. Northern Ireland also has one of the highest occupancy rates for beds in the UK at 95.4%. 

The College recommends a maximum bed occupancy of 85% to allow wards to run smoothly and be able to cope with a sudden influx of patients. In Scotland, the national bed occupancy rate is around that level.

But the alarming figures in Northern Ireland, suggest excessive bed occupancy could have an impact on quality of care. It also increases the chances of patients being placed in beds outside their local Trust, adversely affecting a patient’s continuity of care. 

And the lack of beds is also causing strain on acute and community services such home treatment and crisis teams. 

Last week, a Westminster committee report stated the health service in Northern Ireland was a risk from “deteriorating to the point of collapse” without long-term funding to support transformation. 

Dr Gerry Lynch, chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists NI, said: “These statistics revealing lack of bed provision prove urgent investment in community-based mental health services is needed now for patients, families and staff. 

“There is no doubt, that the lack of beds is putting enormous pressure on frontline services. 

“This is why we’ve been calling for a parity of esteem between mental and physical health, which was referenced in the Westminster report out last week. 

“We need significant investment in community-based services and equal access to care and treatment for all, this includes allowing patients to have a bed within their own health trust. 

“Hospitals and other services are currently gearing up for winter pressures but in mental health, we have year-round pressures. This is a situation which needs addressed now.”  


Health trust first ever in Northern Island to receive prestigious accreditation for dementia care

28 October

The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (BHSCT) is the first in Northern Ireland to receive a prestigious accreditation for dementia care from the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych).

The Older People’s Dementia and Mental Health Service based at Knockbracken Healthcare Park in Belfast, was awarded for completing the Memory Services Accreditation Programme (MSNAP),  for its service provision to people and carers living with the condition.

NI mental health trust story

Christine Wilkinson, service improvement lead, for BHSCT said: “As a service we are very focused on providing high quality, person centred care. This achievement was made possible through a whole team approach and commitment to quality improvement. We are delighted to be the first Trust to receive this accreditation evidencing best practice service provision.”

The highly regarded accreditation aims to improve a patient’s experience of assessment, diagnosis and on-going support. It’s awarded following a rigorous process and supports the NICE Quality Standard for Dementia.

Many of the award’s objectives, including equal access to services, provision of evidence-based treatments, monitoring and follow-up care are also outlined in the Northern Ireland Regional Dementia Strategy.

Dr Gerry Lynch, chair of the RCPsych in Northern Ireland said: “It’s fantastic news that the Trust has picked up the first-ever MSNAP accreditation for Northern Ireland. As we face an aging population, dementia care has never been so important.

“After 18 months of hard work, the staff commitment and achievements for people accessing this service have been fully recognised. Well done to all involved.”

Trainees' Summer Meeting

Our annual Trainees' Summer Meeting took place on 6 June in Clifton House. We were delighted to welcome Dr Beena Rajkumar from Nottingham who spoke about domestic violence and trauma in the family.  There were excellent presentations also from Professor Ciaran Mulholland, Dr Phil Anderson, Dr Julie Anderson, Marcella Leonard and WAVE.

Trainees 1 

On another note, congratulations to Drs Laura Somerville, Amy Grimason and Fiona Martin who were appointed to the central College Trainees' Committee as our local representatives. I know that they will do an excellent job in representing RCPsych NI, particularly with the UK Trainees' Conference coming to Belfast in September.   

CAMHS & UPS Joint Conference

Over 100 delegates attended the 9th Joint meeting with UPS which took place at Mossley Mill on 7 June. As ever, Dr Richard Wilson and Shilpa Shah's stewardship of this venture was just superb and the programme has set a high benchmark for the College which will oversee the preparations for next year's event.  

Richard ni

Dr Wilson has been most active on behalf of the College recently and this morning he was again in Clifton House chairing the C & A faculty meeting.  A packed agenda saw the faculty cover a range of issues, particularly the upcoming CAP Scientific Conference in Belfast as well as the all-Ireland meeting in November.  A successful meeting all said, interspersed with Latin words of insightful wisdom from Richard. 

Calls for Urgent Perinatal Investment

The Royal College of Psychiatrists in Northern Ireland has today joined with a coalition of bodies and agencies in calling for immediate action to be taken to establish dedicated perinatal services across Northern Ireland.
RCPsych NI calls for urgent investment in perinatal services

This is the culmination of a campaign which the College's Perinatal Faculty has led over the past 18 months which has highlighted the current under-provision of service.

The letter, which has been signed by a range of campaigners, has called for a meeting with the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health to discuss what measures can be taken to address the worsening situation.

The College has led in the training of over 200 health professionals over the last six months in perinatal care and feels that, in the absence of a functioning Assembly, the situation cannot be allowed to continue.

Dr Julie Anderson, Chair of RCPsych NI’s Perinatal Faculty said,

“RCPsych NI is calling for both urgent and significant investment to be made to establish specialist maternal mental health care across Northern Ireland.

"A number of recent studies have identified increasing levels of self-reported mental disorders associated with pregnancy.

"There is also clear evidence that poor mental health during this period can have a long-term and detrimental impact on the mental wellbeing of not only women but also their partners and children.

"Significant ring-fenced funding in GB has led to the extensive development of specialist services; Northern Ireland cannot be allowed to be left behind.

The College feels strongly that steps must now be taken to address this inequity of service and that significant funding should be released to address this worsening situation.”

The full letter is available here: Pengelly Letter

RCPsych Perinatal Training

On Thursday and Friday, 21 and 22 March, at the Hilton Hotel in Templepatrick, RCPsych NI delivered the third tranche of the 2-day multi-agency perinatal training, which we have managed on behalf of the Public Health Agency.

This initiative has been a tremendous success for the College locally, and, as chair, it would remiss of me not to pay tribute to both Julie Anderson and Janine Lynch for the superb leadership they have shown in this regard.

It is a source of immense pride to us that over 200 health professionals have now received professional training in advance of the establishment of this vital service.

Perinatal NI

Preparing our members to be the future voices of psychiatry

Six College members received media training on Tuesday 12 February. The training was delivered by noted journalist Michael Macmillan, a former Middle East Correspondent and Washington Correspondent for BBC TV News, as well as former Political Editor of UTV.

The training included TV interviews 'in the studio' with a presenter, together with radio interviews including Good Morning Ulster style, Nolan and telephone interviews. Playback and appraisal of individual performances was provided by Michael and fellow journalist, Jane Veitch.

Media Training Feb 2019

Our chair, Dr Gerry Lynch, welcomed the training initiative explaining, "The fact that we have a further six members trained to the highest standards will only help us to communicate our key strategic messages more effectively," he said.

Adding, "Our aim is to further enhance the College locally as the principal voice of mental health. This investment in our members' skills will ensure that our messages are delivered professionally across the faculties and this is to be welcomed."

Pictured above are, left to right, Drs Arun Subramanian, Bronagh Sproule, Zoe Moore, Amy Grimason, Joy Watson and David Bell, with Jane Veitch and Michael MacMillan.

RCPsych NI to deliver perinatal training to over 200 health professionals

The second of our perinatal training sessions, which we delivered in conjunction with the Public Health Agency, took place in Oxford Island, Craigavon, on 31 January and 1 February. The training was co-chaired by Drs Janine Lynch and Julie Anderson.
There was an excellent line-up of speakers, including Drs Peter Sloan and Dr Roch Cantwell, who flew in from Glasgow to talk about managing risk and the results of the confidential enquiry into perinatal mental health. 

Dr Angelika Wieck spoke on medication issues and she was followed by Geraldine Scott-Heyes and Mary Duggan who spoke on trauma and the health visitors' perspective. 

Midwifery was covered by Shona Hamilton, while a social worker's perspective was provided by Lelia Fitzsimons. Dr Billy Gregg's presentation on addictions was extremely well-received by the 80 delegates in attendance.  Feedback, as before, was extremely positive - a typical example was, "A great two-day training session – best information event I have ever attended."

The Chair of the NI perinatal faculty, Dr Julie Anderson, expressed satisfaction with the event, "So far over 120 multidisciplinary staff from across many professions in each of the health and social care trusts have availed of this training." "The feedback so far has been excellent, and this is a further significant step forward in the development of specialist perinatal mental health services that our population in Northern Ireland require and deserve, she added"

The College will deliver the third training session at the Hilton Hotel, Templepatrick, on 21 and 22 March.


RCPsych and RQIA host successful joint meeting in Belfast 

Over 80 delegates attended our annual joint meeting with RQIA in the Assembly Buildings in Fisherwick Place on 18 January. 

The College was represented by a range of psychiatrists from across all faculties. The event was addressed by, amongst others, Dr Gerry Lynch who outlined the principles behind the Towards Zero Suicide project. It was a topic that engendered much discussion amongst delegates and will warrant further consideration. 

Other topics included ECT, Inspections’ Methodology, Mental Health (NI) Order 1986, Quality Improvement, Physical Healthcare for those with severe mental illness and Suicide Safety Plans.  

The College, as ever, sees this event as a valuable opportunity to network with RQIA and develop a greater understanding between both organisations. We are grateful that so many senior officers in RQIA were able to speak at the meeting. The feedback from members was very positive and this will inform the agenda for next year's event. 

Belfast RQIA

Children’s Law Centre

The College was represented by Dr Richard Wilson at the Children’s Law Centre’s 2018 Annual Lecture, which took place at the Old Bar Library on 15 October.

Childrens Law

With 2019 marking the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it was appropriate that the lecture was delivered by Mikiko Otani, who, in 2016, became the first Japanese to serve on the United Nations committee enforcing the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The theme of her lecture was 'Are our children better off?'

Richard indicated that the lecture had, “examined the important issues arising from the Right to Remedy as applied to children across UN compliant states.”

He said that, “It tackled also the challenges contingent on reflecting relevant aspects of parental responsibility, as well as children's capacity in this context.”

“Questions on the effect of Brexit and the dearth of kindness currently evident, particularly in Western Nations, provoked stimulating discussion. It was a great pleasure to attend on behalf of the College,” he added. 

The Revolutionary Youth - by John Simpson

Our congratulations go to Dr John Simpson on the publication of his book ‘The Revolutionary Youth’. 
JS Book

Launched on 10 November in An Culturlann on the Falls Road, John's novel explores the relationship between two children from opposite sides of the sectarian divide and how the onslaught of the Troubles in the 60s and 70s impacted on their lives and friendship. 

John explained: “Previously I'd written a few short stories, four of which were broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster and published in the Belfast Telegraph, indeed one was published in a BBC book of short stories in 2006, entitled 'My Story'.

I don't write for pleasure because it isn't, it's painful! For pleasure I play the harmonica and sing the Blues! Individual lives and history collide in this book. As a result of the breakout of the Troubles, childhood friends become enemies and families are uprooted. Tommy decides to take matters into his own hands. But there are consequences - there are always consequences - and the boy becomes a man long before his time.”

John's book is available in all good book shops and it can be downloaded from Amazon. 


College Medical Education Conferenceni-news-college-medical-ed-conference

RCPsych NI was well represented at this year's two-day Medical Education Conference at Central College on 27 and 28 September. The event provided a great opportunity for members to meet trainers and trainees from across the country and to take part in discussions to develop Psychiatry Training for the future. Pictured above, left to right, are Drs Dearbhail Lewis, Ita Mulholland, Damien Hughes, Julie Anderson, Jo Minay and Caroline Donnelly.

Day one focussed on undergraduate matters and recruitment and included talks by Drs Caroline Donnelly and Grainne Donaghy. The second day concentrated on postgraduate issues including unconscious bias and improving training.

Dr Stephen Moore commented: 'We are delighted that Northern Ireland continues to have high numbers entering training (13.4% entered Psychiatry from Queen's University Medical School and we top the latest league table figures released) and the event provided lots of food for thought on maintaining and further enhancing our high standards.'

PIPSIG National Meeting in Belfast


The Victorian splendour of Belfast's Ulster Reform Club was the setting for this year's annual National Meeting of RCPsych's Private and Independent Practice Special Interest Group (PIPSIG) on 20 and 21 September. The theme of this year's event was 'Aspects of Psychiatry and the Law' and the meeting heard from a wide range of experts from both the medical and legal professions.

The event was opened by the chair of PIPSIG NI Dr John Sharkey, and he was followed by Dr Philip McGarry whose presentation gave a detailed overview of how the Troubles in Northern Ireland had impacted on both professions. Dr Chris Kelly gave an insightful talk entitled, 'Private Practice after the NHS', while Dr Danny Allen spoke on 'You, Money and the Law',

PIPSIG national chair, Dr Lesley Haines, oversaw the second day of the meeting which had a significant input from the legal profession. Liam McCollum QC, chair of the Bar Council in NI, opened the morning by presenting on personal injuries law.

Later, His Honour Mr Justice McCloskey delivered a talk on capacity and the question of fair trial, while solicitors John Logue and Eamon Todd gave a practical overview of the key information which legal professionals needed from medical reports, together with an outline of the potential pitfalls.

Professor Tom Fahy delivered a very well-received case study to conclude the event.

Feedback from the meeting, which attracted over 50 delegates, was positive in the extreme. Members commented that it had been very useful and relevant to compare how the law and medicine interacted in Northern Ireland when compared to England. Others commented that the meeting had been a very useful networking exercise and were very impressed by the Belfast hospitality.

More information on the PIPSIG can be found on the College's website.

Outreach Event in Kircubbin, Co. Down

Outreach Event in Kircubbin, Co. Down

On 6 September, Dr Niall Corrigan represented the College when he delivered a presentation on self-harm and suicide to a public talk organised by local charity Aware in Kircubbin, County Down.

Tom McEneaney, Aware's Head of Business Development commented after the event: 'Niall's presentation was excellent and it inspired some great discussion with the audience in the question and answer session.'

Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT) for Northern Ireland

NIJAC is inviting applications for the office of Fee Paid Medical Member of the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Northern Ireland. The scheme is open to applications and completed applications must be received by NIJAC no later than 12 noon on Monday 22 October 2018.

College Welcomes President to Belfast

Wednesday 6 June was one of the busiest days of the year for the College locally and we were honoured to be joined in Clifton House by RCPsych President Professor Wendy Burn.

Professor Burn opened our Trainees' Summer meeting and delivered a very well-received presentation on the Gatsby/Wellcome Neuroscience Project Commission. She then attended our joint seminar with the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA), which considered Confidentiality and Information Sharing in Acute Mental Health Assessments.

After lunch, the President introduced the joint meeting of our General Adult and Rehabilitation and Social Psychiatry Faculties. This event covered a wide range of topics and generated much discussion around the utility of risk assessment tools in mental health services regionally. Consultant Clinical Psychologist Dr Adrian Boyd spoke on psychological perspectives on psychosis and how psychological formulation can be used to help Clinicians and Patients understand psychotic symptoms in their context.

Again, this stimulated much discussion around how psychiatry and psychology can work together with their own unique perspectives and experience for the good of their patients.

The day ended with our AGM and our summer celebrations at which we welcomed our new members to the College and paid tribute to our former office bearers.

Seminar Highlights Best Practice in Confidentiality and Information Sharing

Seminar Highlights Best Practice in Confidentiality and Information Sharing

Following our joint meeting with RQIA in 19 January, we held a follow-up event on 6 June to focus on 'Confidentiality and Information Sharing in Acute Mental Health Assessments'.

This event was in response to the issues raised by Hamish Eldridge at the January meeting. Hamish related the story of his son Matthew's death by suicide and how he [Hamish] had felt that there had been the lack of family involvement at any stage of his care.

Hamish had proposed that steps should be taken to address how trusted friends and family could be involved in assessment, treatment and care. He also suggested that there was a need to review how consent was sought and action taken to implement in England the 2014 Consensus statement on information sharing and suicide prevention.

There was an excellent attendance at the event across a wide spectrum. Afterwards, Chair Dr Lynch explained that, "a number of actions had been identified to be taken forward by the Trusts, including the adoption of some of Hamish's suggested form of words."

Pictured above are Chair Dr Gerry Lynch, Dr Uzma Huda of the Northern Trust and the RQIA's Nixon.

More information on the Matthew Eldridge Trust can be found online.

Spotlight on Diabetes and Mental Health

Spotlight on Diabetes and Mental Health

Deputy Chair of our Trainees' Committee Dr Amy Grimason represented the College at a joint event organised by Aware and Diabetes UK at Malone House in Belfast on 14 June.

Amy spoke in great detail on the links between Diabetes and Mental Health as part of a week long series of event to mark Diabetes UK Awareness Week. This type of collaborative working is very much in line with our vision of promoting parity of esteem for both physical and mental health

We thank Amy (pictured above second from left) for her time and presentation.

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