Happy New Year
27 January, 2022
I want to begin my first monthly blog post of 2022 by wishing you all a very happy new year. My sincerest hope is that this will be a thriving and positive one for psychiatry and mental health teams around the world.
In the UK, one of the ways in which achievements and the service of extraordinary people is recognised is through the New Year Honours list. I was incredibly proud to see that our very own Chief Executive, Paul Rees, was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) this year, recognising his services to mental health and to equality, diversity and inclusion.
Paul has been a fantastic leader when it comes to equality, diversity and inclusion within the Medical Royal College sector. He jointly led on the publication of our Equality Action Plan and continues to ensure that we follow through on its commitments.
I want to give a huge thank you to Paul for all his incredible efforts and leadership at RCPsych.
On top of this, leading psychiatrist Dr John Mitchell, a recipient of a RCPsych President’s medal, was awarded a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire). It's gratifying to see the huge impact that he has had on our patients' lives and the wider population in Scotland recognised in this way. His honour is richly deserved.
Omicron uncertainty continues
Many around the world are facing renewed challenges due to COVID-19. In the mental health sector, we continue to face the challenges of increasing presentations of mental illness due to the pandemic, infection control measures, as well as staff shortages. All of this is underlined by a long-term shortage of psychiatrists, meaning that many of you will be facing very difficult circumstances.
Over this month, as well as during the festive break, I have continued to make your voice heard both with the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England.
From my recent interactions with those in NHS England it is clear that although uncertainty remains, there are early signs of improvement, and I hope that we’ll soon have a much clearer idea of what the easing of the pandemic’s impact on physical health will look like.
However, what we do know is that the mental health effects will be with us for years to come. With the government’s recent announcement that it plans to ease Plan B measures, it’s safe to say that we’ll soon have to collectively focus our attention on the already increasing waiting lists for treatment and presentations to emergency departments.
I would also like to take this opportunity to point you to the Psychiatrists’ Support Service, which is a free, rapid, high quality peer support by telephone to psychiatrists of all grades who may be experiencing personal or work-related difficulties. It's important that you reach out if, and when, you need it.
College Officers and staff have continued to work from home this month and we also had our first meeting of Council for 2022 online. One subject that was discussed was the forthcoming mandatory vaccination regulations for NHS staff. The College has released a statement on our website in light of this.
Things I’m looking forward to in 2022
Like many of you, despite the Omicron uncertainty, there are events in the upcoming year that I’m beginning to get excited about.
We’re welcoming members back to a newly refurbished Prescot Street, and staff are returning at the end of February. The refurbishment has enabled us to give the building a fresh look, make it more sustainable and reflect the rich diversity of our College. It's also given members more space for remote working if they need to undertake clinical work from the building.
In addition, this year, the College is hosting its International Congress in Edinburgh and I’m looking forward to seeing many of you in person for the first time in over two years.The preparations are already underway, and it looks like it will be a fantastic few days. You can already register for tickets on our website.
I’m also looking forward to meeting with leading psychiatrists in person at the American Psychiatric Association annual meeting and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists 2022 Congress, both due to take place in May.
In mid-December, the College launched its first-ever LGBTQ+ membership survey which aims to capture the experiences of LGBTQ+ psychiatrists in the workplace.
The survey will help the College to understand whether LGBTQ+ psychiatrists have experienced discrimination, bullying or harassment in the workplace, if so from whom and what action, if any, was taken. We’ll then use what we learn to highlight the experience of LGBTQ+ psychiatrists.
It’s open to all members regardless of whether they identify as LGBTQ+ and closes on 31 January. An email has been sent to you with a personal link to respond. Please do take the time to fill it out.