29 days of action
26 February, 2020
February is the shortest month of the year and always seems to fly past, this year has been no exception. Despite it being so short we have squeezed a lot into February. Of course, as 2020 is a Leap Year, we get a full extra day to do what we are best at!
Members leading College funding campaign
The NHS Funding Bill completed its whirlwind trip through the Commons with a small victory for the College and mental health services. We have been leading a campaign, supported by Rethink and Mind, to amend the Bill so that the Secretary of State has to report annually to Parliament on how they are progressing towards parity of esteem for mental health. With the help of the 658 College members and supporters who emailed their MPs we succeeded in making the majority of the debate focus on funding for mental health. While the amendment wasn’t formally accepted we did secure a commitment from the Health Minister to look at how the existing reporting mechanisms can be improved to demonstrate how Government promises on parity of esteem are being fulfilled.
RCPsych’s sustainable investment policy
This month has also seen us reviewing our investment policy. Historically the College has avoided investing in companies involved in tobacco, armaments, adult entertainment, alcohol and gambling. There were also limits on investment in pharmaceutical companies. We have been keen to improve this and, following representations from some members and others, we have added fossil fuels to the list of excluded investments. We have also gone further by reviewing our entire investment approach so that our assets will be invested in companies that follow good environmental, social and governance policies and practices and we have signed up to the Principles of Responsible Investment.
Bringing the curriculum up to date
We also submitted our new Core Curriculum for Psychiatry to the GMC Curriculum Advisory Group. This submission follows many months of hard work led by John Russell, our Associate Dean for Curricula, ably supported by our Training and Workforce department. As someone who can remember back to the time when we didn’t have a curriculum, I can say with authority that this is the best one yet. There is a lot of detailed work needed before it is finalised but we now have a solid base to build on. The team celebrated the submission with cake and party poppers, I can also say with certainty that we haven’t done that before.
Applications to ACCEA extended
We have been contacted by ACCEA (Advisory Committee on Clinical Excellence Awards) to say that for reasons beyond their control they have had to alter their application timetable for this year’s awards. We have therefore amended our timetable, which is available for anyone who wants support from the College. Please do consider applying, you have to be in it to win it after all.
On the road
As I move into the last few months of my Presidency I will still be travelling round the UK, hopefully meeting many of you. A recent highlight was the RCPsych in Scotland Winter Meeting. Edinburgh is such a beautiful city; I am looking forward to going back there for the International Congress this summer. The day was full of interesting talks and I caught up with old friends.
Another fun event was the National Psych Soc conference. This was held over a stormy weekend in Bristol. Luckily, I spoke on Saturday and made it home just before Ilkley was cut off by floods. The students were, as always at these events, extremely impressive. It made me feel that our future as a profession is safe. One of them even persuaded me to be photographed with a dog (please don’t show the picture to my cats).
College update on Coronavirus
On a more sombre note, as I write this COVID-19 is spreading and the World Health Organisation is asking us to prepare for a pandemic. I hope this won’t happen but if it does, we will have some difficult decisions to make over the coming months, especially around examinations and meetings. The Officers and the Senior Management Team will work together on this, ultimately nothing is more important than the safety of our members and their patients, all decisions will be made with this in mind and you will be kept up to date on these. Meanwhile, please follow Government advice which is updated regularly.
Safety item: Clozapine intestinal obstruction
Healthcare is not as safe as it should be and too many patients suffer harm that could be prevented. Each month we include one safety item in this newsletter, highlighting an incident of preventable harm so that we can all learn from it.
Constipation occurs commonly as a side effect of clozapine, yet can be overlooked by healthcare professionals due to the perception that it is not serious. Sadly, without detection, constipation secondary to clozapine can lead to death and therefore it is vital that it be recognised and treated.
The following is an excerpt from the BNF describing the potential consequences of clozapine-induced constipation:
“Impairment of intestinal peristalsis, including constipation, intestinal obstruction, faecal impaction, and paralytic ileus, (including fatal cases) reported. Clozapine should be used with caution in patients receiving drugs that may cause constipation (e.g. antimuscarinic drugs) or in those with a history of colonic disease or lower abdominal surgery. It is essential that constipation is recognised and actively treated.”