Northern Ireland chair's blog: December 2018
22 January, 2019
I availed of an important lobbying opportunity to partake at the Evidence Session of the NI Affairs Committee in the House of Commons in early December.
The Chair was Dr Andrew Murrison MP and the Committee included Lady Sylvia Hermon MP, Ian Paisley and Gregory Campbell. I was accompanied by Professor Peter McBride Chief Executive of Inspire Wellbeing, Professor Nichola Rooney Branch Chair NI British Psychological Society and David Babington Chief Executive Action Mental Health.
The topic was Funding Priorities for the 2018-2019 Budget – Health – and Mental Health was the particular focus. In the absence of the NI Assembly and its Health Committee in particular, it is crucial that we turn our attention to our Westminster representatives in order to be heard as the voice of psychiatry in the current political climate and to highlight the lack of strategic direction and the underfunding of mental health services here.
Speaking of the voice of Psychiatry, you will see from the Activity Log just how many members continue to take up opportunities to input our expertise in the public sphere. My thanks to them and my encouragement for more of this going forward. It de-stigmatises psychiatry, is professionally and personally fulfilling and is an important way of ensuring that our expertise gains greater traction and respect. We have a very useful contribution to make.
If you wish to read a commentary on the recent Mental Health Act 1983 review Report in England and Wales, you might like to read the comment piece for the Lancet which was written by Drs Catherine Taggart, Phil Anderson and myself and was published last month.
As 2018 closed, we were sorry to say goodbye to Manager Nora McNairney who has very successfully steered the College office since its inception some 16 years ago. Nora will be missed and I will certainly miss her support and wise counsel. We wish Nora well in her new venture. Barry Flynn has been appointed as Interim Manager and I look forward to working with Barry in that role.
In conclusion, I hope that 2019 is a good year for all members – also for RCPsych NI as we embrace devolved nation status.