The next generation
27 October, 2022
Over this month, I’ve had the privilege of welcoming some of our newest members to the College at our New Members' ceremonies. They join at an exciting time for the College, when we are in the midst of a presidential election.
Last week, the College held hybrid Presidential hustings for our potential new College leaders: Dr Kate Lovett, Professor Russell Razzaque and Dr Lade Smith CBE.
During the hustings, we heard about how each candidate would help with recruiting the next generation of psychiatrists, how they would promote equality, diversity and inclusion for patients, carers and psychiatrists, their thoughts on embedding sustainability and how we can put the therapeutic relationship back at the heart of psychiatric practice.
We are incredibly lucky to have such an incredibly high caliber of candidates and I am certain that whoever is elected will do so much good for our college. I encourage you all to read their supporting statements and watch the recording of the hustings. Voting will open on 14 December.
The (other) leadership contest
At the time of writing, the Conservative leadership contest had just come to a close and it was announced that Rishi Sunak had been elected leader of the Conservative Party and the UK’s next Prime Minister. This follows the resignation of Prime Minister Liz Truss, who had recently appointed Dr Thérèse Coffey as Health and Social Care Secretary. It is unclear who will now take on this role, but no matter who it is I’ll continue to make the case for a full-funded plan for mental health, alongside a long-term workforce strategy. This will be vital to ensuring that our patients get the care they need when they need it.
The College has continued to engage proactively with both political parties, and I attended the Labour Party Conference at the end of September, and the Conservative one in October. At both conferences the College was one of the partners for a roundtable discussion with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and some of the other Medical Royal Colleges on ‘fixing the NHS.’ Colleagues from across the sector demonstrated some of the pressures facing the NHS and social care, and we discussed short and long-term solutions that can make a difference to patients.
I also attended several fringe events, receptions, and roundtable discussions on what can be done to improve mental health services. Among the organisations hosting the events were Mind, the Mental Health Foundation, Rethink, and the British Medical Association (BMA).
Despite the political turbulence, this was a great opportunity to rub shoulders with our policy makers and get our message across about the importance of mental health.
Ride for their Lives
Earlier this month I took part in the global campaign, Ride for their Lives, cycling across London alongside other health leaders to highlight the need to protect children from the disastrous effects of air pollution and the climate crisis.
The cycle was coordinated by our partner the UK Health and Climate Change Alliance (UKHACC), who are doing fantastic work to bring together health organisations to advocate for a just responses to the climate and ecological crisis, promote the health benefits that flow from those responses, and empower members and health professionals to make changes in their professional and personal lives to respond to the crisis.
The Lancet Countdown
Staying on the important issue of the climate and ecological crisis, The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change has just published its latest findings in its annual report. The Lancet Countdown shows health impacts of climate change, consequences of delayed action, and health benefits of robust responses.
The UKHACC and The Lancet Countdown have co-written and co-produced a UK brief which has been published alongside the 2022 report. We’ve collectively made three important recommendations for the UK government to protect people and the planet:
- end all subsidies, investments, new licenses and consent for fossil fuels
- adopt a legally binding commitment to reducing fine particulate air pollution
- create equitable access to green space.
These are not issues that we can afford to ignore any longer and I encourage all of you to take the time to read through this important briefing.
Meeting of Council
Last week, the College’s Council met to discuss the affairs of the College. This was a great opportunity to hear from some of our Council members on the work their faculties have been doing.
We had an excellent and informative morning session. This included a presentation about the central importance of psychological thinking within psychiatry as part of the bio-psycho-social model, from the Faculty of Medical Psychotherapy. We also heard from Autism Champion Conor Davidson on autism and how to best tackle the challenges in care, treatment training and tackling the diagnosis waiting list.
In the afternoon the Council agreed on a way forward to modernise our annual general meetings to allow remote attendance and voting.
Please do take the time to read through the minutes in the members' section when they are published.