Back to Blog

Speed of light

July has flown past. I’m convinced that time speeds up in the summer months. It started brilliantly with the International Congress. I had the privilege of opening this and of trying to summarise all the work that has been done by the College over the past year in 30 minutes, no mean feat. I included a little musical surprise to celebrate my year of rail travel, if you missed me at congress invite me to speak and I’ll play it to you.

Congress 2019 and beyond

Every year Congress gets better. There were too many good sessions to mention them all. What I love about Psychiatry is that we can justifiably sprinkle a little media and culture into our CPD. So, this year we heard from Louis Theroux, the documentary filmmaker who recently has focused on mental health, and from Dr Sam Guglani, Oncologist and author of Histories, who closed the first day of the conference with a talk that was pure poetry. The only bad bit of congress was that I was constantly seeing people I know but never had time to stop for a chat.

We are already planning next year’s Congress which will be in Edinburgh from 29th June to 2nd July 2020. This will be my swan song as President so I’m determined it will be at least as good as this year and preferably even better. Work on the new programme is already beginning, please consider submitting a proposal. We particularly welcome ideas for sessions that present a diverse faculty including women, ethnic minority groups and patients and carers.

Cat sitting at Number 10

It won’t have escaped your attention that Larry the Number 10 cat now has a new owner. Of course, as with the famous watches, no one actually owns Larry, they merely take care of him for the next generation. While this new cat sitting arrangement gets underway, at the College we are working hard to ensure that Boris Johnson follows Theresa May’s example and gives mental health the attention it desperately needs and deserves. This means implementing the recommendations of the Mental Health Act Review, including securing additional capital funding to improve the buildings that our patients are treated in, and ensuring that Mental Health services receive the money that has been promised. It’s reassuring that in his very first speech to Parliament he said “I am committed to making sure that the NHS receives the funds that were promised by the last Government in June 2018 and that these funds go to frontline as soon as possible.” We will be watching very closely...

Reducing Restrictive Practice

I also attended an event that was very different from Congress, a “Drop the Disorder” day in Cumbria. These events challenge the culture of Psychiatric diagnosis and I was invited by the organisers to listen and to take part in a panel discussion. It was moving and useful to hear the patients’ stories and to get a different perspective on the services we provide. I’m keen that the College engages with as many different groups as possible and hears their views.

During this event restraint and forced medication was mentioned and the reaction in the room from people who had undergone this was very powerful to experience. I’m really pleased that the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (part of the College) is working on reducing restrictive practice. The Reducing Restrictive Practice collaborative is part of a wider Mental Health Safety Improvement Programme which was established by NHS Improvement in partnership with the Care Quality Commission. The aim is to reduce restrictive practice (measured by number of restraints, seclusions and rapid tranquilisations) by 33% in the wards that are selected to take part. I have been following progress on this project and it’s looking very encouraging, I hope this will lead to a permanent improvement in the care we give to our patients.

Take a break

No doubt the rest of the summer will race past. I hope that you will all get some time to take a break and relax and I look forward to meeting many of you when conference season starts again in September.

Wendy's blog was included in the July 2019 eNewsletter.

Blog Author
Prof Wendy Burn


Wendy was elected President of the College in 2017. She holds this role until 2020 and leads the RCPsych on behalf of its members and associates.