RCPsych eNewsletter January 2018

Wendy talks about New Year’s resolutions, driving recruitment in psychiatry and updates on the Mental Health Act.

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The College were delighted this year when Her Majesty the Queen announced that seven of our members were included in the 2018 New Year’s Honours List.


  • Dr Clive Meux, Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. For services to People with Mental Ill Health.

  • Professor Tim Crow, Honorary Scientific Director, Prince of Wales International Centre for SANE Research. For services to Schizophrenia Research and Treatments.

  • Prof Ian Goodyer, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Cambridge. For services to Psychiatry Research.

  • Professor Sally-Ann Cooper, Professor of Learning Disabilities, University of Glasgow. For services to Science and Medicine.


  • Dr Rohit Shankar, Consultant in Adult Developmental Psychiatry, Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. For services to People with Learning Disabilities in Cornwall.

  • Dr Ben Goldacre, Senior Clinical Research Fellow at the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, is appointed MBE for services to Evidence in Policy.


  • Dr Sarah Stringer, Honorary Lecturer, King’s College London. For services to Psychiatry and Equality in Mental Healthcare.

Professor Wendy Burn, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists said: “We all know that mental and physical health are just as important but it’s not often that doctors specialising in mental illness get the recognition they deserve. It’s fantastic to see psychiatrists awarded for their life-saving work.”

Paul Rees, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Psychiatrists said: “The Royal College of Psychiatrists fights tirelessly for mental and physical health to be equally valued and respected.

“And while mental health has long been undervalued, these honours are a clear sign that recognition of the important work psychiatrists do is on the up.”

On the day The Times newspaper reported on its front page that Facebook admits “social media is bad for your mental health”, the Royal College of Psychiatrists held its annual debate for young people to a combined audience of 600 school pupils.

This popular annual event, always hugely oversubscribed, is an educational initiative of the College’s Public Engagement Committee.

Two teams debated the motion “This house believes that social media is bad for your mental health”, Dr Peter Haddad and Dr Beth Masterson proposing the motion, and Dr Abigail Swerdlow and Dr Priya Raj opposing.

Combining humour, statistical research and friendly rivalry, the two teams put forward their arguments, including noting the increasing rates of young people’s mental health illness, cyberbullying and isolation, but also the positives of social media; the support many find online and maintaining long distance friendships.

Chaired by Dr Jim Bolton and Dr Gil Myers, pre and post-debate votes were counted and a live twitter feed was co-ordinated and widely participated in by those attending, despite the technological issues noted by the Times the following day!

The motion was defeated at both debates, but the audience questions, comments and discussion was both animated and insightful.

Many students were keen to know more about training in psychiatry and this annual event helps to both destigmatise mental health illness and inspire psychiatry as a career.

So, is social media bad for your mental health or part of supporting people with mental health problems? Can it be both?

See the full debate on YouTube. 

Time is running out to book your place to attend the next President’s lecture, given by Dame Stephanie Shirley on ‘How autism affects mental health’.

The event is taking place at 6:30pm Thursday 22 February 2018, at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 21 Prescot Street, London.

Our President, Wendy Burn, said: “As President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, I am delighted Dame Stephanie Shirley is talking on this topic.”

To reserve your place, please email Thomas Kennedy at thomas.kennedy@rcpsych.ac.uk.

View previous lectures

See video recordings of recent President’s lectures:

Last year we launched a brand new magazine for members called RCPsych Insight. On the eve of the third edition we’re asking – what do you think?

First edition – June 2017

We launched the new magazine – RCPsych Insight – to great excitement at Congress 2017. Among the highlights, our new President Wendy Burn spoke about her expectations and Sir Simon Wessely reflected on his three years in the role.

Second edition – Autumn 2017

The autumn edition included a feature on our campaign Choose Psychiatry, which led to hundreds of sixth formers, medical students and foundation doctors signing up to learn more about a career in psychiatry.

Third edition – Winter 2018

The third edition is coming out shortly. Among the highlights will be a piece looking at tackling discrimination and the Mental Health Act and an article exploring the exciting options available to psychiatrists after retirement.

Tell us what you think of the magazine so far

We’d love to hear your views. What have you liked so far? What would you like to see more or less of? Please tell us:

  • Email: insight@rcpsych.ac.uk

  • Write to:
    Rebecca Couper, Head of External Relations
    21 Prescot St, London
    E1 8BB

  • Tweet us using #RCPsychInsight

What is the RCPsych Parliamentary Scholars Scheme?

Since 2012, Baroness Hollins, ex-President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and a Professor of Learning Disabilities Psychiatry, has taken on a Learning Disabilities trainee for a special interest session to work with her as a parliamentary researcher in the House of Lords.

This is the first year the scheme has been opened to trainees in all psychiatric sub-specialities.

Dr Jen Perry is one of the five speciality trainees who spend one day a week treading the floors of Westminster. Each of them is attached to a different peer from across the political spectrum; Conservative, Labour and Cross-Bench.

About Jen

Jen is an ST6 in general adult psychiatry working at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

She is attached to Lord Brooke of Alvethorpe for a year. Lord Brooke is a labour peer who was appointed by Tony Blair. His main area of interest is substance misuse, with a focus on public health and its links with mental illness. His work campaigning on alcohol was recognised at the UK Alcohol Health Alliance’s 10 year celebration last month where he won the ‘Peer of the Decade’ award.

Here are the highlights of what she’s done and learnt so far...

Parliamentary Questions

One of my roles is to provide briefings for Lord Brooke on topics for written/oral questions which are posed to the Minister for Health in the Lords (Lord O’Shaughnessy). Here are some examples;

We tabled some questions on the Mental Health Act (MHA) Review. We asked what steps were being taken to ensure that patients get help early before reaching the point of detention and also what assessment had been made of the decrease in inpatient psychiatric beds and any relationship this might have to the increase in the use of the MHA.

Lord O’Shaughnessy said that the Government recognised ‘that improved community mental health services’ were needed and outlined additional funding for crisis teams and A&E departments. He said there would be ‘consideration of why rates of detention are increasing, and what can be done to reduce inappropriate detentions’ but he did not comment on any potential relationship between beds and detention rates..... We will be doing a piece of work on the MHA review as a group of scholars.

We asked an oral question on the impact of Brexit on mental health research. The Government has pledged to underwrite bids as part of Horizon 2020. Questions also highlighted the disparity between UK mental health and physical health research funding and the impact of Brexit on the research community.

CAMHS has been a topical issue in parliament and we asked about variation in CAMHS services across the country as highlighted in the recent CQC report.


I’ve also had the opportunity to support Lord Brooke in drafting a speech for a debate on access to mental health services for BME groups. The speech highlighted some of the inequalities evidenced in the government’s race audit.

It focused on the need for a public health approach and asked the Government how it would ensure the implementation of the recommendation from the JCPMH guide which states that ‘targeted investment in public mental health interventions for BME communities’ is required. We also asked about progress on the Race Equality Standard which was recommended in the Crisp report.

Other experiences

My days in the HOL are generally quite varied. Lord Brooke’s main interest is alcohol misuse and so I have been to the several events on this issue including; the launch of the Lancet commissionreport, on the financial costs of alcohol, and the Drink Wise Age Well report which highlights age discrimination in alcohol services/policy.

Most days I will go to a Select Committee/APPG meeting which are good opportunities to learn about policy. For example, in October I attended the Health Select Committee which took evidence from the authors of an excellent report on The Long-term Sustainability of the NHS and Adult Social Care.

At the EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee in November, Martin Mckee gave evidence on the complexities of organising reciprocal healthcare agreements following Brexit. I also attended a meeting of the APPG on Mindfulness which received coverage in the press as a result of the MP who spends an hour in the bath each day!

Overall impressions

All in all I absolutely love working in the House Of Lords! I’ve learnt a lot about how parliament works and how to influence policy.

I will sum up this blog with my initial observations….

  1. Sometimes the questions don’t get answered in a very direct way at all, but the process of asking the question is a way of putting pressure on the Government- they let them know you’re on their case!

  2. Although the Lords can appear a bit intimidating, most of the people who work there are actually really friendly.

  3. Brexit features everywhere!

More from the Parliamentary scholars

Each Parliamentary scholar is writing a blog for the eNewsletter.

If you enjoyed hearing about Jen’s experiences, you can catch up with the others in forthcoming eNewsletters.

Last month the College’s Quality Improvement lead Amar Shah brought you the second of a series of QI case studies, which we hope will inspire ideas for quality improvement in your areas of work.

It focused on work done by the East London Memory Clinics, part of East London NHS Foundation Trust.

This month we’re looking at a project which took place at the Adult Learning Disability Unit in Durham.

The project in brief

Using Quality Improvement Methodology (QIS) methodology (the RPIW improvement process, to be specific) the unit

  • improved patient flow

  • continued to offer an excellent quality patient care

  • reduced bed numbers

  • changed staff numbers to support more community based activity so patients could stay in their own home.

Impact & results


The impact of the RPIW is being felt across LD inpatient services and in addition to the results above the RPIW has delivered:

  • Visual control boards reduced from 3 boards down to one making things more action focused

  • 12 consultant ward rounds across 3 units reduced down to  a daily huddle in the remaining 2 units

  • 31.25% reduction in bed numbers

  • 60% reduction in consultant time required in unit

  • 100% reduction in non-productive meetings

  • 100% of patients now get a formal formulation (76% previously)

  • Saving of 592 miles per week of community staff travelling to ward rounds

  • 68% reduction in staff time spent prepping for and attending meetings (was previously 126 hrs per week)

Qualitative Results and feedback

  • Timely care

  • Governance compliance

  • Patient turnover –average bed occupancy is 21 days

  • In line with transforming  care-care is delivered in the community

  • Generates Business for the trust

  • Improved Inter-agency working and partnership working

The Inpatient Review RPIW has been a resounding success and illustrates the efficacy of the trust’s Quality Improvement System.  It also demonstrates the continued commitment of the Learning Disability division to develop innovative treatments that avoid restrictive practices wherever possible and minimize them where absolutely necessary.

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