A magical month, even without a Tardis
20 June, 2018
This last month has been spent in the UK which is something of a relief after my recent travels to the other side of the world. The furthest I have been is Belfast.
Warm weather and a warmer welcome
While there I was lucky enough to be shown around Clifton House, the Head Quarters of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Northern Ireland.
This was originally built as a poor house in the 18th century and has some fascinating artefacts and stories about people who lived there. If you go to Belfast please do book yourself onto a tour.
I also met members who were there for meetings and talked to a group of trainees about the Neuroscience Project.
The sun shone brightly (I bring it with me) and the welcome was even warmer. I look forward to returning there.
A President and Prince
A big excitement was a trip with a group of College staff and volunteers to Buckingham Palace for a garden party to celebrate the 70th birthday of Prince Charles, our patron.
It was a beautiful afternoon and we walked in the gardens and beside the lake to the sound of a brass band.
Sri Kalidindi (ex-chair of the Faculty of Rehabilitation and Social Psychiatry) was our VIP representative and was in the front row in an eye catching red dress which can be clearly seen in the photos of the event which went viral.
Nice to see Psychiatry take a position at the forefront…
Improving our learning
I spent a day near home in the North of England when I made a trip to Durham for a meeting of the Northern Alliance of Trusts to talk about how we can improve our ability to learn from those very sad occasions when our patients die.
I shared the work the College is doing on Learning from Deaths and heard of the progress being made in different Trusts. We need a way of ensuring that learning is shared across the whole of Mental Health Services and I’m keen that the College supports this.
I also visited Chester to talk about my priorities as President. I caught up with some old friends and made some new ones.
It’s really helpful for me to get out and about and to check that the College is truly representing the views of its members so please do invite me to your meetings and your Trusts.
Fighting for parity
Back in London, the Prime Minister announced that the NHS in England would get an average three point four percent funding increase above inflation for five years, with increases in the devolved nations too.
Even better, she highlighted mental health services as a priority for the increased spending.
College Officers and staff have been working really hard to make the case for Mental Health and we look forward to working with the Government and NHS England to ensure that this money is well spent and that Mental Health Services are funded to the same standard as physical health.
One very good piece of news is that the Government sees research into Mental Health as a priority area and is keen to engage with us to take this forward.
This month we have relaunched our Choose Psychiatry recruitment campaign. Last year the success of this saw the number of core trainees starting with us in August up by a third from last year.
We really need to maintain this expansion. Please continue to do all you can to encourage medical students and Foundation doctors to join us.
We have updated the heart-warming film which shows the positive benefit we bring to our patients.
The best event of the whole month was the first ever New Fellows evening to be held at the College.
This was a magical evening. First, we heard a little about each Fellow and the amazing things they had done. Each Fellow bought a guest with an age range of 11 to 86.
Then we all sat down to dinner together and enjoyed the wonderful food from the College catering team. I was honoured to be able to celebrate with a group of people who have done so much for our patients.
Congress round the corner
As I write this there are just a few days to go to the International Congress in Birmingham, the biggest event in the College calendar.
The programme looks fantastic, I have no idea how I am going to get to all the talks I want to hear or how to choose between them.
From cutting edge neuroscience, to Joanna Cannon the best-selling author talking about her books, to Jonny Benjamin, an award-winning mental health campaigner talking about his own experiences of mental illness, the range and variety of sessions is infinite.
Oh for a Tardis!
I have been asking (in vain) for a Tardis since I started, what I need for congress is a Time-Turner like the one that enabled Hermione Granger to take every subject available in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by going back in time and choosing a different lesson to attend. That would be perfect for Congress.
If you are going I’m sure you will enjoy it. Please come and say hello. Catch me as I walk past or contact me by email firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter. I’m looking forward to meeting many of you there.
Professor Wendy Burn