So this is Christmas, and what have you done?
18 December, 2019
Another year over
Here we are at the end of another year. As John Lennon so famously said “So this is Christmas and what have you done? Another year over, a new one just begun.” I used this song in my last talk of 2019. I was a guest at Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust awards for medical trainees. The award winners and their colleagues were an inspiring group, a lovely way to end my year of travels. It was significant that both the CEO and the Chair of the Trust were there supporting the event.
In January I gave you my New Year’s resolutions and promised to report back. These included improving recruitment, increasing retention and ensuring that we get what we were promised in the NHS Long Term Plan. How have we done? In August we recruited the highest number of core trainees for many years with Wales filling every post.
Retention is also improving, the number of psychiatrists at all grades has reached a new high since records began in September 2009. That is despite the pension crisis so imagine what we could achieve if that was solved. Work on the Long Term Plan continues.
A big shout out to Claire Murdoch, National Director for Mental Health, and her team at NHS England who are working incredibly hard on this. So far it is looking good and the money will begin to flow soon to local areas – the College will of course be keeping a watch to make sure that it does!
All my career I have struggled with how we can make the NHS a safer organisation that learns from mistakes. This has become better over the years but we still have a long way to go and we can never be complacent. As a way of trying to improve this, each month the newsletter will include one safety item, this month it is about pica - you can find it at the bottom of this blog. Sadly this was not recognized recently in a patient who then died from it.
As ever, I am always keen to hear from members so please do get in touch if there is a safety issue that you would like to see highlighted in future months.
I was in London for the results of the General Election and it was interesting watching people’s reactions. As a politically neutral organization the College looks forward to working with the new Government to seek to improve things for people with mental illness.
We will continue to hold the Government to account on pledges they have made, and challenge them to go further, and will be watching closely to ensure that the new money flows as has been promised. This will also include a focus on working with members on local campaigning - watch this space in the New Year for opportunities to get involved.
But the important election result is still to come. Voting for the next College President is now live and closes on 8th January. The three candidates are all fantastic but will take the College in very different directions. Choose wisely, my successor (I’ve decided that ‘successor’ sounds so much better than ‘replacement’) will lead the profession through what may well be some difficult years. I hope that whoever is elected will continue the work that I have done in trying to make this College more inclusive and relevant to its members.
Join our award-winning conference
The College celebrated after our annual Congress 2019 won Best Conference Development at the Association Awards UK.
Our Centre for Advanced Learning and Conferences (CALC) team attended the awards event in Birmingham and took part in a ‘success stories’ session before being presented with an award for our 2019 Congress, attended by 3,400 delegates from no fewer than 65 countries.
If you missed out this year you can register your interest for the 2020 Congress in Edinburgh (and secure your place to hear my farewell speech before I hand over to my successor).
I am trying to develop a new edition of 101 Recipes for Audit but as yet we don’t have enough audits to go ahead. I would love to see a new edition of this very popular book, if you have a suitable audit please send it to email@example.com for consideration for inclusion in the book. If your audit is featured in the book, your name will be included as a contributor, and you’ll receive a copy of the book when it is published.
Putting mental health at the heart of new systems
As you may be aware, all areas in England are being asked to become “Integrated Care Systems” (ICSs) by 2021. The College recently published recommendations for local and national leaders to ensure that mental health services and the needs of our patients are prioritised as areas develop into ICSs.
We listened to the experiences of local areas who have already begun the process and drew from the opportunities and challenges they found. This is a complex process. What matters most is ensuring that patients can benefit from more joined up care and that the future of mental health trusts is not at risk.
I will be thinking of those of you at work during the holiday season, caring for our patients. I hope that you all get some time with your families. I wish you the happiest of Christmases and here’s hoping that 2020 will bring even better things for our services.
Safety item: Pica
Healthcare is not as safe as it should be and too many patients suffer harm that could be prevented. Each month we will include one safety item in this newsletter. We will highlight an incident of preventable harm so that we can all learn from it.
We were recently informed by a coroner of a sad case of a patient with autism and intellectual disability who died as a result of PICA.
In this condition patients regularly eat indigestible objects. It is essential that health care professionals involved in their care understand this behaviour, how dangerous it is, and how to manage it.
Please be aware that PICA can be fatal. The College is working to develop further information with other partners which will be announced in due course.