Powerful speeches and a royal appointment
18 October, 2017
I have now completed my first three months as President and am well into my fourth. I have chaired two of the 12 council meetings that will happen during my term of office. And best of all I’m finally enjoying it.
I had a crash course in politics by attending three Party conferences: Liberal Democrats, Conservatives and Labour.
I had to learn to digest briefing documents with College positions and key messages on a wide variety of issues.
I went to a huge number of “round tables” where I sat at what were definitely rectangular tables and desperately tried to get a chance to say my piece.
I even gave a speech at a fringe health event at the Conservative conference.
Powerful and moving
We hosted a roundtable event on crisis care in mental health services, with a focus on the Government’s plans for reforming the Mental Health Act, at both the Labour and Conservative conferences.
One of the members of our service users’ forum spoke very powerfully and movingly of what it is like to be detained.
She described her feelings about the loss of dignity and control and how difficult it is to be a patient on wards where everyone is acutely and severely unwell. We had wide ranging discussions about what might need to change.
Review of the Mental Health Act
At the Conservative conference, the Prime Minister announced the setting up of a review of the Mental Health Act, chaired by Professor Sir Simon Wessely.
He will produce an interim report in early 2018 and develop a final report containing detailed recommendations, by Autumn 2018.
We will be liaising closely with him as he starts work on what will be a challenging project. We are currently analysing the membership survey on the MHA.
One of the clear findings is that Members believe the rising rate of detention is due to reduction in community resources that make it hard to offer an alternative.
Highest trainee pass rate
At the end of September, the results came out for the MRCPsych CASC Examination. The overall pass rate was 65.6% with a trainee pass rate of 81.1%.
This is the highest rate since the exam began.
The statistics have been looked at very carefully and it’s clear that those taking the exam are now of a higher standard. This is excellent news and I look forward to meeting them at a New Members Ceremony.
Buckingham Palace, please!
The highlight of my role so far was my trip to Buckingham Palace for an evening event to celebrate World Mental Health Day, accompanied by Adrian James, Kate Lovett and Kate Milward, ex-chair of the PTC.
The first thrill of the evening was saying “Buckingham Palace please” to the cab driver. The second was walking through the gates and into the Palace grounds.
I was treated as a VIP, as was Professor Dame Sue Bailey who is a past President of the College. A small group of us were taken to the beautiful White Drawing Room where William, Kate and Harry spoke to us all individually.
They were keen to find out if I thought their championship of mental health was making a difference and I reassured them that it was. Harry in particular would like to work more with the College in the future.
I then joined the rest of the guests. It was a fun evening. People who work in our field are often slightly out of the ordinary and almost always interesting. Everyone there had heard of the College and was complimentary about what we do.
Our Choose Psychiatry recruitment campaign continues, I hope you have noticed it and seen the videos which are on our website.
Thanks to all those who have recorded a one minute message about why they love their job and posted it on twitter with the hashtag #ChoosePsychiatry.
Recruitment for 2018 opens soon and I really hope we improve our numbers this time.
Please do all you can to encourage Medical Student and Foundation Doctors and show them what a great job we have and the huge difference psychiatrists make to people’s lives.
Professor Wendy Burn