June 2017 - Dr Alastair Cook, outgoing Chair of the RCPsych in Scotland
29 June, 2017
Our blog this month is written by our outgoing Chair, Dr Alastair Cook.
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
As I write the International Congress is in full swing in Edinburgh once again. This year at least it is taking place before the schools break up for the summer holidays. Scottish Psychiatrists are prominent as both speakers and delegates and so far the event appears to be going very well and 2400 psychiatrists from around the world will leave Edinburgh with a very positive impression.
The last time Congress came to Edinburgh was 2013. At that time I took over as Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland from Peter Rice. On this occasion I am handing that privilege to John Crichton, who will lead the College in Scotland over the next four years as Chair in Scotland and Vice President (Scotland) of the UK College.
A handover seems like a good time for reflection. Being Chair for the last four years has been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my career to date. Working with the other Officers, Faculty Chairs, Regional Advisers and Executive Committee Members has been fun and I hope also productive.
We started out by agreeing a work programme that included a continued
focus on recruitment and retention, trainee engagement and ongoing support for consultants through mentorship and training. Our progress on recruitment has been limited but mirrors experiences in other parts of the country and other specialties.
We initiated a working group to look at perinatal and infant mental health resulting in the Healthy Start Healthy Scotland campaign and have followed that up with a working group on personality disorders that will report this year.
There is now recognition in the central College that the offices in the devolved nations can no longer be regarded as regional divisions and that a new constitutional arrangement is necessary. A paper proposing the creation of devolved councils of College for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will come to Council in July and is expected to be implemented in 2018. Greater autonomy for the College in Scotland will need to be matched by improvements in resources and there is commitment to build on this within the College, helpfully supported by the new Chief Executive, Paul Rees and our new President, Wendy Burn.
I have particularly enjoyed working with our third sector colleagues to build the Scottish Mental Health Partnership. The Partnership
has had some influence in the early stages of the new mental health strategy but needs to build a greater role in the monitoring and ongoing development of new commitments and describing a new framework for mental health services in our integrated world.
Being Chair can be a challenge, especially when trying to fit the College role into an already busy job. All College roles add to our workload but in my experience the rewards far outweigh the costs. This is only possible because the College in Scotland is supported by an amazing group of staff in our Queen Street Office. My own personal highlight of the four years will be the 20th anniversary dinner we held during the autumn meeting in 2014. The 20 year celebration marked not only 20 years of a College office in Scotland but 20 years of Karen Addie as manager of our office. Karen has been supported by many staff over the years but Angela Currie, Susan Richardson, Rebecca Middlemiss, Laura Hudson and latterly Elena Slodecki have all been crucial supports during my time in office. The team do so much to make the job of the Chair and other officers possible. I can’t thank Karen and the team enough for their support over the last four years.
Would I do it again? I would recommend a College role to anybody who is willing and interested in contributing. The rewards are great and the work well supported by the team. I’m looking forward to continuing to contribute from the sidelines as John and Linda Findlay, our new Vice Chair take over and hope they have as much fun over the next four years as I have over the last four.
Dr Alastair Cook, Outgoing Chair of the RCPsych in Scotland