Feline good after a busy March
21 March, 2019
I am writing this in Madrid. For once I am travelling on holiday, not on College business. This means that I actually get to leave the hotel and see the sights.
Madrid is a beautiful city filled with art, culture and fantastic food.
I strongly advise you to visit if you get a chance - if you want an idea of what it can offer have a look at my Twitter feed….
Feline good about old age psychiatry
Earlier this month I attended two of my favourite annual events. The first was the Old Age Faculty conference in Nottingham.
The Chair of the Faculty, Amanda Thompsell, gave me the nicest introduction I have ever had: “Wendy always answers emails immediately and has two lovely cats.”
I think I should change my conference biography to this, it’s a lot more interesting and informative than listing the posts I have held over the last 30 years.
Returning to age specific services
As always with RCPsych Faculty conferences, the programme was excellent. It was also a good chance to catch up with members.
Old Age Psychiatry has suffered in recent years, particularly with the widespread adoption of the “ageless” model that threatened to undermine all that had been achieved since it was first recognised as a specialty in 1989.
It was promising to hear that the tide is now turning and services are beginning give more focus to age specific models once again so that older people can receive the specialised care that they deserve and need.
We are also seeing a small but definite increase in the number of Old Age psychiatrists at all grades which is great news. There was a noticeable feeling of optimism in the air and it was good to meet interested and enthusiastic trainees and medical students.
The second event was the Annual RCPsych Neuroscience Spring Conference which was held at the College. This is part of the RCPsych Gatsby/Wellcome Neuroscience Project.
We heard from frontline researchers. Some of the research was so fresh and cutting edge that we were embargoed from sharing it on the day.
A particularly fascinating talk was given by Madeline Lancaster from Cambridge. Many of you will have seen the film that I show about her work which involves growing brain organoids in the lab, which I refer to as “mini brains” (don’t quote that as the official term!).
She has now been able to grow organoids which spontaneously send out connections to join up with spinal cord and muscle tissue taken from a mouse.
The mouse muscles can then be seen to contract under the control of the brain organoid. I’m certain that advances of this sort will lead to the medical students and trainees who were in the audience being able to deliver innovative new treatments to patients that we can’t even imagine today.
Documentary makers can #ChoosePsychiatry too
It’s definitely conference season now and there will be many more coming up culminating in International Congress which is in London this year.
We have some really exciting speakers including Louis Theroux, who I have long thought would make a brilliant psychiatrist, if he ever wanted a change of career.
Putting plans into action
Life isn’t all non-stop conference fun, and the past month has been busy with meetings about the implementation of NHS England’s Long Term Plan.
College members and staff have been hard at work influencing the various work streams and ensuring that mental health is never forgotten and that our patients get the best deal.
Mental health legislation
Mental Health law continues to be a busy area for the College. In Northern Ireland we are helping to inform the drafting of the Code of Practice for the Mental Capacity Act (NI) 2016.
Work is starting to implement recommendations from the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act 1983 in England and Wales and development of the Code of Practice to accompany the safeguarding scheme which will replace DoLS under the Mental Capacity Act is underway with College involvement.
Meanwhile, Scotland has just announced an independent review of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003.
The review will consider the prospect of fusing incapacity and mental health legislation with the aim of reducing stigma and enhancing rights. I look forward to our involvement, it’s exciting to be part of changes that will improve and modernise the way in which our patients are treated.