The Championing Autism campaign led by the RCPsych Autism Champion Ian Davidson started in October 2016 as a pilot with pump priming funding from DHSC through to March 2017. RCPsych decided to continue the programme and council in July 2017 authorised it running to July 2020.
- audit the autism continuing professional development (CPD) needs of all psychiatrists in practice in England;
- update and scale up the existing CPD autism training programme to meet identified CPD needs;
- develop and implement models of best practice in support and selective referral to local specialist autism teams and
- develop and implement a patient (individual) level best practice commissioning manual for joint working with health (NHS England) and local NHS social care commissioners.
and to produce outcomes that include:
- timely ASD diagnosis and appropriate services to refer to;
- autism friendly mental health services;
- reduced stress and anxiety – not only for those with ASD, but also for families, carers, social workers, GPs and psychiatrists;
- improved health outcomes with equitable access to the NHS;
- a reduction in wasted resources by earlier recognition and less crisis management.
The Steering Group
The campaign has a steering group chaired by Terry Brugha which is a sub-group within the Neurodevelopmental Special Interest Group of RCPsych chaired by Tom Berney.
Steering Group Membership as of February 2019:
Terry Brugha (Chair), Tom Berney (SIG Chair), Peter Carpenter (SIG Finance Officer), Ian Davidson (Autism Champion), Ian Hall (Chair of CALC), Ashok Roy (Chair of ID Faculty), Noel Mckenna and Damian Milton.
The campaign has worked collaboratively with faculties and divisions within the College and with multiple groups and organisations outside the College to improve services for Autistic people and particularly through supporting and improving the skills,
values and knowledge of psychiatrists relating to Autism.
We are delighted that many psychiatrists are contributing to Championing Autism in many ways through research, education, training and clinical service developments and practice over and above the role of the formal programme itself. It
is clear that over the time since 2016 these have all increased in number and profile.
In terms of the formal programme the pump priming included money for revising the Autism training package offered by RCPsych (led by Terry Brugha, Tom Berney and Peter Carpenter) and to encourage development of additional e-learning modules. These were delivered.
- Presentation of the programme at various annual faculty meetings in 2017 and to the Northern Ireland Division
- Participation in 'Autism and Mental Health' and 'Autism and Ageing' workshops
- Revision of RCPsych guidance - CR175 and CR191
- Discussion of ways to include Autism in the College Curriculum and to support CPD needs of psychiatrists regarding Autism
- Contributed to discussions on the reform of the Mental Health Act and the NHS Long Term plan
- Worked with NHSE and NHSI to ensure that approaches to Autism are Autism focussed (not tacked on to discussions about Learning Disabilities or Mental Health) whilst at the same time advocating that those Autistic people who have a co-occurring Learning Disability or Mental Health problems
In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland the RCPsych national divisions lead on interaction with health and social care planning and delivery as each country has different arrangements. The Autism Champion is therefore less directly involved but links
with colleagues in each country and helps to share learning across the College.
In 2017, agreement was reached between Health Education England and RCPsych Neurodevelopmental SIG to run a small number of training days for psychiatrists in different parts of England. The days are called 'Autism essential for Psychiatrists' and take participants beyond Autism awareness training. These will therefore benefit the participants but also through evaluation and feedback will help Health Education England and RCPsych in shaping future approaches to training on Autism. There are 6 in total with the aim being to reach a total of 200 psychiatrists attending across the 6 venues.