October 2018 - Dr John Crichton, RCPsych in Scotland Chair
28 September, 2018
This month's guest blog is written by RCPsych in Scotland Chair, Dr John Crichton. Dr Crichton will be updating you on the College in Scotland's activities quarterly via the guest blog.
Do you have a ‘bucket list’? That list of essential experiences to tick off before you ‘kick the bucket’? For anyone who dips into social media there are a myriad of thinly veiled dream lists to tempt you to disclose that longed for holiday destination or experience. It has perhaps crept into the cultural script of those at the end of life who have the means and the opportunity. As an antidote I suggest a small volume of collected essays by Oliver Sacks - Gratitude. As the great man contemplates his own death he is open about insecurity and uncertainty but the overwhelming emotion is that of gratitude. Not for experiences planned for, but those arrived at as if by chance.
One experience that binds psychiatrists together is the loss of our patients to suicide. I recently attended a service at Forth Valley Royal Hospital remembering those who had died by suicide. It was surprisingly comforting and hopeful. By contrast, I found unsettling the story of Aurelia Brouwers, a young Dutch woman with a personality disorder who died by euthanasia. Her story was broadcast on the same day as the release of Scotland’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan. I am glad to have already met Rose Fitzpatrick, Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group, with the College represented by Dr David Hall at their first meeting. I am also looking forward to joining Dr Andy Williams at the launch event of the Personality Disorder in Scotland Report on the 9th of October.
This month has seen Dame Denise Coia publish her initial findings from the CAMHS review and the commitment of the Scottish Government in their Programme for Government of significant new funding for mental health services in Scotland. Both Dame Denise and Rose share the same challenge in ensuring Integrated Joint Boards scale up successful ways of working and that services across the country have the same quality and scope of provisions. An important part of the solution to that challenge was also announced this month – a new range of quality indicators launched by Scottish Government which will complement the dashboard of information presented by ISD. Time will tell if benchmarking and sharing of best practice are sufficient or whether powers to direct by Ministers under Integration legislation are required.
I had the pleasure of reading some most encouraging event feedback recently. STs Dr Andrew Bailey and Dr David Walsh repeated the success of last year in a welcome event to our new Core Trainees at the end of August. We continue to promote recruitment into psychiatry but an emerging theme is retention. At some point over recent years the culture of our workplaces has left doctors of all grades feeling disconnected and voiceless. That must change, and I suspect it will be the trainees who will lead the way for us all. The feedback from the event spoke of our newest colleagues considering the College in Scotland as friendly, approachable, supportive and welcoming. We must not let them down. We all have a role to play in mutually supporting and valuing each other.
I am very grateful to Pauline McConville for organising a very successful Autumn meeting which blended the horizon of research possibilities, described by Professor Jonathan Cavanagh, and the breadths that psychiatry can bring in appreciating literature, brought by Allan Beveridge. Shortly, we will be publishing the Winter Meeting programme which this year incorporates the President’s Lecture – I can promise a stellar line up.
Autumn seems an appropriate time for endings and it is with sadness but overwhelming gratitude that we say goodbye to Patrick Garratt and to Elena Slodecki. Both are leaving to take up postgraduate university studies. Patrick has been able to synthesize the most complex of discussions into coherent responses to consultations. We all owe a tremendous debt to Elena who stepped up shortly after joining us. Without her contribution over the last two years we would have struggled to be as effective as we have been in shaping policy, giving a voice to the profession and preparing for the establishment of Devolved Councils. I am sure everyone wishes them well.
Dr John Crichton, RCPsych in Scotland Chair