About us

The private and independent practice special interest group (PIPSIG) was formed in the 1990s and membership is increasing as more psychiatrists opt for portfolio careers. Members from other Specialities and Faculties of the College are welcome if they work to any extent outside the NHS.

The group includes those in private practice, retired working psychiatrists, medico-legal and Mental Health Act work and doctors visiting and working in independent hospitals and clinics.

The group's concerns have been that those working outside the NHS have, in the past, not been connected with College affairs. Current challenges include the requirements of relicensing and revalidation (including appraisal and 360 degree feedback), maintaining skills required for independent psychiatric practice and liaising with other College activities.

The group seeks to develop the interface between the College, the independent sector, the insurers and the NHS.

Previous annual reports can be viewed on the website and show the range of activities that PIPSIG covers.

Dr Simmi Sachdeva-MohanChair (in post 2021)
Dr Danny AllenSecretary (in post 2017)
Dr Jonathan HellewellFinance Officer
Dr Tom CarnwathCommittee Member
Dr Iain GrantCommunications Officer
Dr John SharkeyCommittee Member
Dr Elin DaviesCommittee Member, telepsychiatry
Dr Rick DriscollCommittee Member
Dr Rachel GibbonCommittee Member, psychotherapy
Dr Monica ShahaCommittee Member, CAMHS

Upcoming events

  • 12 August 2021, 4pm - 5pm: Drop-in session facilitated by Lesley Haines & Jonathan Hellewell; focus on medicolegal reports 
  • 14 September 2021, 5pm - 6pm: Drop-in session facilitated by Jonathan Hellewell and Rachel Gibbons; focus on leaving the NHS 
  • 5 October 2021, 2pm - 3pm: Drop-in session facilitated by Rachel Gibbons and Lesley Haines; focus on revalidation and appraisal 

Past events

  • Telepsychiatry after COVID Conference on Zoom on Thursday 22 July
  • PIPSIG Starting Out in Independent Practice Conference. Virtual event over Zoom on 16 December from 9.15am-5.00pm. Please see the programme for further information.
  • Starting Out in Independent Practice event on 19 December 2019 at Royal College of Psychiatrists. Please see the programme for further information.
  • PIPSIG Annual Conference - 'Since you've been gone…'. Developments in psychiatry over the last 10 years, for those who have been outside mainstream NHS practice on Friday 12 July 2019 at Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • Annual meeting in Belfast, at Royal Ulster Club 20 and 21 September 2018 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; what the legal profession wants from us'
  • Joint Occupational Health SIG and PIPSIG at College HQ on 1 March 2018 'Working with Mental Illness'.

Important documents to help regulate your practice:

PIPSIG Drop-in sessions

When COVID hit, the PIPSIG exec responded by commencing monthly drop-in sessions. The aim is to allow doctors who may be working in isolation the chance to discuss the difficulties they have encountered and potential solutions with their peers.

Each session lasts an hour and is facilitated by two members of the PIPSIG exec. In response to comments, the sessions were moved onto a rota encompassing morning, afternoon and evening slots. Weekend slots had not been welcomed.

All PIPSIG members are e-mailed with the dates of the meetings for several months in advance, the week before each meeting and on the day of the meeting. Registration for the meeting is with catherine.langley@rcpsych.ac.uk. Zoom meeting details are only given to those who register to prevent ‘Zoom-bombing’ and improve confidentiality.

View a survey of the first 12 months of the drop-in sessions.

PIPSIG on Twitter

PIPSIG is on Twitter! Details of forthcoming events, consultations that might concern PIPSIG members and items of interest are posted. Please follow @RCPsychPIPSIG.

Starting out in independent practice

The PSS have published advice about starting out in independent practice. This is a summary of the points raised during the PIPSIG 'starting out in independent practice' days.

Please bear in mind that it is a summary of the points that delegates struggled with - the information is not meant to be exhaustive.


The PIPSIG telepsychiatry guidance has been incorporated into and superseded by the College guidance on digital communications during the COVID restrictions.

GMC guidance


Should you require a copy of any previous bulletins not currently available on the website, please contact Francis Maunze – the College Archivist.

PIPSIG's Executive Committee has decided to set up an annual bursary for early-stage psychiatrists to help develop their entrepreneurial passions and activities. This bursary is worth £1000.

Background: PIPSIG are aware that there have been a number of successful apps and other digital developments that have proved beneficial to people with mental health problems. These include online courses to deal with depression, anxiety and eating disorders; anonymous social networks; adventure games tackling psychotic phenomena; various biofeedback devices; and much more besides. Granted the limited national funding for mental health, particularly for child and adolescent mental health services, we would like to see a proliferation of such self-help material.

PIPSIG have observed that many psychiatrists and psychiatric trainees have good ideas in this respect, but may well lack the know-how to develop these ideas, which requires multi-disciplinary skills including research and development, software design and development, user and market testing and knowledge of intellectual property. We are at present exploring with potential educational/research partners how such skills and ideas can be fostered and brought forward.

2019 Bursary: Congratulations to Dr Kirsty Alderton for winning our first bursary, a prize of £1,000.

This is for her development plan for a computer app to help women in the perinatal period, "a place where women can access information, use mindfulness (tailored to perinatal period), and daily exercises that will help improve mood, anxiety, sleep and nutrition, including a timeline of changes that happen to a woman from the start of pregnancy, focussing on the brain, the mind and the body".

Hopefully, the prize will contribute to further development of her programme and she will also receive advice from experts on our awards panel.

Application forms for next year's bursary and further information can be obtained by emailing sigs@rcpsych.ac.uk.

The deadline is 31 December 2021.

Get in contact to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry