My firsthand experience of great NHS care
25 February, 2021
When this year began, I hadn’t anticipated that I’d find myself admitted to a respiratory ward and receiving oxygen therapy. However, as this past year has proved, not much can be predicted.
Fortunately, my admission was not COVID-19 related and was in fact an acute exacerbation of asthma. I consider myself very lucky to have left hospital when so many others have not.
My time in hospital was a great opportunity for me to witness at close range the skill, dedication and bravery of the NHS workforce. I was particularly struck by the professionalism of the nursing team, the skill of the medics and the kindness and hard work of the catering, cleaning and porter staff.
I’m incredibly grateful for their continued commitment and for the excellent care I received during my stay. I urge you all to look after yourselves and each other, and to stay as safe as these times will allow.
Dame Fiona Caldicott
During the last week, I was greatly saddened to hear of the death of Dame Fiona Caldicott; a pioneer not only as the first female President of the College, but as a great public servant. She will be deeply missed. Read our full tribute to Dame Fiona.
Despite its turbulence, this month has had some real highlights.
It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak about our new Equality Action Plan at the Transcultural SIG Annual Conference. I’m pleased that the College has a clear plan ahead and it's great to have so many psychiatrists onboard who are passionate about driving it forward.
This month we also sent out the results of the latest round of exams. It's with great pride that we can announce that 199 candidates out of 364 were successful in MRCPsych CASC Examination held in January 2021.
I’d like to send my congratulations to the successful candidates, and thanks to the examiners and staff for their hard work, without whom, these exams couldn’t go ahead.
On schedule, we had the exciting news that the vaccine roll-out will begin to move into Cohorts 5 and 6 of the JCVI prioritisation list. In December we were able to ensure that our recommendation that adults with severe mental illness or a severe or profound learning disability were included in Cohort 6.
We’ve been working with NHS England and Equally Well to make sure as many people as possible who are eligible are offered the vaccine at the earliest opportunity. The operational guidance for adults (16-64) years with a severe mental illness and intellectual disability is now available on the guidance for clinicians' section of our website, along with lots of other helpful information on COVID-19 vaccination.
A new way forward for the NHS
This year is already proving to be an excellent opportunity to ensure mental health is firmly on the government’s agenda.
In January, we welcomed the publication of the Mental Health Act White Paper; a great chance to modernise mental health law. As I have mentioned previously, we’re excited to begin the process of engaging positively with you on this over the coming months.
In addition to this we will be looking at the plans the Government announced this month for NHS reform. The College will be looking at these proposals carefully and we believe they mark a big opportunity to ensure that every local area works towards parity of esteem and increased collaboration to address inequalities.
I’ve also had the opportunity to speak about the long-term impact the pandemic is going to have on mental health. In my article in the BMJ I highlighted the direct and indirect effects of COVID-19 on people’s mental health and how this is being exacerbated by the existing long waits to access specialist services.
My appearance on Sky News gave me the chance to argue that the government’s commitment to support the NHS through COVID-19 should include a commitment to mental health. It is crucial that the needs of our patients are considered as we begin to map out the recovery.
International Congress 2021, now online
We’ve recently announced that Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty will be among our keynote speakers at this year’s International Congress. As we all know, he’s no stranger to a podium and I’m certain that he’ll have some incredible insights from over the last year.
We also have Vivian Pender, President Elect of the APA, included in the lineup, as well as health equity champion, Sir Michael Marmot. This will be our first ever virtual Congress and will be a great opportunity to learn and develop professionally. Early bird tickets are available until 28 February so don’t miss out. I hope to see as many of you there as possible.