RCPsych in Scotland news

Choose Psychiatry in Scotland Funding

19 December 2019

The College in Scotland is delighted to announce it has been successful in securing substantial financial support from NHS Education for Scotland to continue its work in promoting the profession of psychiatry around the country in 2020. This follows on from the great start made by the Choose Psychiatry in Scotland campaign in 2019, assisted by a Scottish Government grant awarded in late 2018. Read the full announcement.

Laura Hudson and Angela Currie (Interim Managers of the RCPsych in Scotland) have commented on our activities and achievements in 2019 which has been another extremely busy and productive year.

My Psych App

4 December 2019

The new MyPsych app, developed by NHSGG&C in collaboration with colleagues from across NHS Scotland, launches on Thursday 12 December with an event at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow. The app, designed with the modern mental health practitioner in mind, includes a variety of information toolkits including one for medical students on their psychiatry placements. Please see the programme for further information.

More support needed for people with autism and complex needs

30 October 2019

The Mental Welfare Commission has published its first themed visit report looking at support for people with autism.

Commission visitors met 54 people living in a hospital or in the community across Scotland and spoke to medical and care staff along with families and carers.

Findings included:

  • A wide variation in assessment and post-diagnostic support across the country. Sometimes having another diagnosis, such as a learning disability, was seen as a barrier to a proper assessment of autism.
  • Of the 54 people met by the Commission, 45 were prescribed psychotropic medication on a regular basis, with 40 of those being prescribed regular antipsychotic medication.
  • Thirteen of the 28 people who were living in hospital were ready to leave, but were on delayed discharge, waiting for suitable accommodation.
  • For those living in the community, their environments were well designed and appropriate. In hospitals, thought had been given to how to make changes to the environment for the particular needs of the patient, but this was simply not possible in some wards.
  • Families described the significant, distressing and ongoing negative effects that the diagnosis and care has had, making it difficult to maintain a family unit. Most of these family carers had not been directed to support for themselves and had not had an assessment of needs.

Responding to the latest report, Dr Eleanor Brewster, chair of the Faculty of Intellectual Disability Psychiatry at RCPsych Scotland, said: “People with autism need access to appropriate services before and after diagnosis.

“Unfortunately, Scotland continues to see significant difficulties around recruiting and retaining sufficient numbers of medical, nursing and other staff who specialise in learning disabilities, meaning some areas are better provided for than others.

“We’re concerned there is a lack of high-quality community accommodation and daytime opportunities for people with autistic-spectrum disorders and complex needs.

“Better community provision would help people to be discharged from hospital as soon as they are ready, so that they can live closer to their families and communities.

“Good community support should also mean that medication is only used for the small number of people with complex needs who still experience difficulties after psychological and social approaches are in place.”

Guidance for members in No-deal Brexit scenario

18 October 2019

With the possibility of a no-deal Brexit occurring on 31 October, Senior officials have sent guidance to NHS Scotland staff on a no-deal Brexit. This includes information on medication supplies and contingency plans in place.

The College has recently produced a Briefing paper on the impact a no-deal Brexit scenario may have on Psychiatry in Scotland.

Welcome boost for trainee doctor posts

27 September 2019

Scotland’s medical workforce is due to by bolstered by 105 more places by 2022 for new graduates on the Foundation Training programme – including the specialism of psychiatry.

Medical students graduate from medical school after five years and move into a two-year Foundation Training Programme.

The first 51 training posts will be available under this scheme in 2021 for students to continue their training to become qualified doctors.

RCPsych in Scotland have been campaigning on this issue for several months.

Professor John Crichton, chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, said: “We welcome this announcement as currently around a quarter of foundation year doctors have training in psychiatry compared to about half of new doctors in England.

“This move will improve the medical workforce and a general understanding of mental health and will attract more people to choose psychiatry as a career.

“We look forward to finding out about the implantation of this exciting new development and it will be essential there is ongoing monitoring to ensure we are on track and the quality of placements is high.”

Announcing the move on a visit to Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

“With a programme that is 99% full, our Foundation training is a testament to the popularity of Scotland as a training destination and the high-quality education we offer.

“We need confident, skilled and committed doctors to meet the needs of patients, particularly as we face an ageing population with multiple conditions.

“With the offer of an exceptional quality of life for young doctors in Scotland, I am committed to providing attractive training and career prospects to ensure as many medical graduates from Scottish medical schools stay in Scotland to train, progress and realise their career ambitions.”

These additional Foundation posts will create a greater range of placements for trainee doctors particularly in general practice, psychiatry and in remote or rural parts of Scotland.

Welcome news for patients as more junior doctors take up psychiatry

10 July 2019

The number of junior doctors taking up psychiatry in Scotland is steadily on the increase, according to official figures.

New statistics from N HS Education for Scotland (NES)reveals that in 2019, 41 of the 57 posts advertised have been filled – a rate of 72 per cent.

This is compared to 67 per cent last year where 40 junior doctors took up psychiatry from 60 posts advertised.

Although figures have increased by 4 per cent, 2015 had the highest increase infill rate, with 53 posts advertised and 50 accepted places – a total of 94 per cent.

But doctors have welcomed the news that the numbers are steadily on the increase again.

Dr John Crichton, chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, said:

“This is welcome news for both patients and mental health services.

“But we must not be complacent. People will always need psychiatrists and working with the Scottish Government, we need to do all we can to continue to promote it as an excellent career choice for all junior doctors.

“Being a psychiatrist is a rewarding and brilliant career choice and in Scotland we are world-leading in many aspects of mental health.

“We should be working towards increasing the rates to an all-time high again.”

After medical school, trainees undergo a two-year foundation training programme to bridge the gap between medical school and further specialist training. After Foundation School, junior doctors choose to follow either general or specialist medicine.

The six-year specialist psychiatry training programme is the final step in the journey to become a consultant psychiatrist – the most senior doctor specialising in mental health.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists is currently running a #ChoosePsychiatry campaign to encourage more people into the profession.

College responds to the latest suicide statistics in Scotland

26 June 2019

Statistics released today by the Scottish Government show that 784 people died by suicide in Scotland in 2018. This compares to 680 deaths by suicide in 2017.

Commenting on the latest statistics, RCPsych in Scotland's Suicide Prevention Lead, Dr David Hall said:

“Although figures have improved overall in the last five years - it is disappointing that these latest statistics are looking like a backward step.

“The National Suicide Prevention Plan includes a number of important initiatives which are being actively developed and are based on the best available evidence to push suicide figures back down. They include further awareness-raising and training, a commitment to review every death by suicide in Scotland to allow a greater understanding of what causes these devastating events to occur, and to learn from them.”

College responds to Scottish Government funding on social media and mental health

23 April 2019

Scots school pupils are to be coached on how to use social media amid fears that sites such as Instagram and Twitter are contributing to a decline in mental health.

The Scottish Government are to invest £90,000 on official advice on how to cope with the pressures of social media. The move was welcomed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, however the organisation warned that children are also suffering from a lack of mental health services due to council cuts.

Dr Elaine Lockhart, chair of the Child and Adolescent Faculty said:

“We welcome this focus on children and young people’s mental health as it highlights the importance to us all about the positive and negative aspects of using social media and why adequate, undisturbed sleep during adolescence is essential.

“We know from recent research that the most vulnerable young people with mental health disorders are more likely to be adversely affected by time spent on social media.

“Although the Scottish Government's ambitions are welcome, the reality is that right now many children and young people are not getting the help they need to stop falling into crisis.

“Scotland needs joined up services so that children and young people can access help when they need it. However, much of that early help has been provided through local authority budgets which have fallen in recent years, affecting what can be offered within schools, social services and the third sector.

“Specialist CAMHS need to be funded sufficiently so that children and young people can be seen quickly when needed, but also to allow for work with partners across children's services to support mental health promotion, prevention and care.”

Leading Scots Psychiatrist Advises Downing Street Summit

3 April 2019

A leading Scottish doctor visited 10 Downing Street today (Wednesday) - to advise on the best way forward in tackling youth violence.

Dr John Crichton, chair of The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) met with ministers and other officials to talk about improving mental health services for those affected by serious youth violence at the Serious Violence Summit.

Recently, Dr Crichton was involved in research looking at “killer” kitchen knives and how the introduction of pointed kitchen knives could help reduce the number of fatal stabbings.

Research shows that many attacks, particularly in households where there has been a history of violence, involve kitchen knives because they are so easily accessible. The psychiatrist believes a switch from sharp-pointed, long-bladed kitchen knives to a new “R” point design could save lives.

Dr Crichton said: “These are very important discussions to have. I’m pleased the UK government is looking at how to tackle serious youth violence and how we target the most vulnerable. Improving and expanding services for people whose mental health may have been impacted by serious youth violence should be a top priority.

“In Scottish cities, we’ve seen some great work from the Violence Reduction Units which has resulted in a large drop in murders and the number of people admitted to hospital with knife wounds. Some of these strategies are now being adopted by cities in England.

“Notably the ‘preventative’ approach taken by Glasgow – once the city with the highest murder rate in western Europe – has now been adopted by London.

“This is where my research into kitchen knives comes to the fore. This is a public health measure and public health measures are always about society deciding on a self-imposed restriction for the public good.”

Dr Crichton attended a roundtable discussion hosted by Nick Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

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