Happy Easter all
26 April, 2019
I am writing this on the train back to London after the Easter break. I know that many of you will have been working over the holiday but hope you all got a chance to at least have some time relaxing with your families, and to enjoy the glorious weather.
Royal reception for social prescribing
As usual the last month has been packed full of interesting events. One of the most exciting of these was a reception held by our patron, HRH The Prince of Wales, on Social Prescribing at Clarence House.
I was invited to represent the College in recognition of the work we are doing in this area. If you want to know more about Social Prescribing have a look at the latest copy of Insight magazine.
We are holding our first ever national conference on Social Prescribing on 12 June - this free event is being run jointly with NHS England and we still have a few places available. I hope to see some of you there.
Honorary Fellows come for dinner
The visit to a Royal Household was followed by an equally glittering affair at the College, the annual dinner for Honorary Fellows.
Each year we appoint five new Honorary Fellows. These are people who are eminent in psychiatry or a connected discipline, or who have given distinguished service to humanity in relation to mental illness, or who have rendered notable service to the College.
This includes ex-Presidents and it’s an odd experience sitting down to eat dinner with people who appear to have stepped out of the portraits on the College walls.
As you can imagine with such an exceptional group it’s an interesting evening and one of the highlights of the College calendar.
I also attended the European Congress of Psychiatry in Warsaw.
This was a good chance to network and to get an International view of the latest research and developments. Whatever happens in politics I’m determined that we will keep our connections with European psychiatry and we are looking at ways of working more closely with our colleagues there.
The best part of the conference was seeing our own Professor Helen Killaspy being presented with the Constance Pascal – Helen Boyle Prize for Outstanding Achievement by a Woman in Working to Improve Mental Health Care in Europe for 2019.
Helen is a former Chair of the College’s Faculty of Rehabilitation and Social Psychiatry.
Her research has provided much needed evidence for the effectiveness of specialist services for people with complex mental health needs. It was lovely to be there to see her collect this well-deserved award.
Services and staff of the future
Work on the NHS Long Term Plan is going ahead at what is called “scale and pace” and the College is involved with all of NHS England’s work to develop the implementation plan. The detail including exact funding is now being worked out and so far, it’s looking very good for Mental Health.
As is always the case – people are key. The improved services can only be delivered by a large enough workforce with the right skills.
Although recruitment to psychiatric training is definitely improving (the numbers for this year are fresh out and I’m so delighted to say 329 trainees have been accepted on to core psychiatry in the first round – a record high!) we won’t be able to produce the numbers of psychiatrists required in time.
We therefore need to plug the gap by expanding multi-professional teams with other disciplines. Peer support workers and Physician’s Associates are increasingly employed in Mental Health services throughout the UK and are greatly appreciated by the patients that they work with.
I haven’t forgotten the need to work on retention as well as recruitment, my clinical work keeps me in touch with the stresses and strains of working in the NHS and I’m determined that we will improve this.
The College is involved in all the main work steams of the workforce plan for the Long Term Plan – in particular the Future Medical Workforce workstream, which has a focus on wellbeing and retention. The College is developing a strategy to enhance staff mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.
Curtains for DoLS
Parliament is about to pass a new piece of legislation which will be relevant to the work of many of you.
The Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill introduces a new scheme to replace the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard rules which have been deemed “broken”, largely due to the large backlog of people waiting to be covered by the scheme.
Make new friends but keep the old
I’m sure that you, like me, are still learning your way around our new website. We have a brand-new section for retired members. This is aptly entitled “New Horizons” and has information for those who want to continue to make a contribution after retiring from the NHS, whether this is volunteering overseas or working as a much needed second opinion appointed doctor.
If you are thinking of retirement please take a look and consider using your expertise and experience in a different way.
While we are delighted to be doing better with recruiting young psychiatrists but we need to hold onto all of you with skills that have been developed over many years.