Royal College of Psychiatrists elects new president

Press release
24 January 2017
A new president has been elected by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Professor Wendy Burn will take over from Professor Sir Simon Wessely in June.

She was elected after a 33.1% turnout, a huge increase on the College’s last presidential elections.

Professor Burn, an old age psychiatrist, is the College’s 15th president and will be its figurehead for the next three years.

Professor Burn said: “I am honoured to have been elected president.

“I know what it’s like on the frontline of psychiatry and how difficult it has become. The current morale amongst trainees is the worst I have known it, but as president I will ensure that they are supported and valued by the College.

“There is still so much stigma surrounding the profession. Psychiatry is an incredibly rewarding and important profession, and we must work hard to challenge the negative views that still exist.”

Chief executive Paul Rees said: “I have very much enjoyed working with our president Sir Simon Wessely, who has been an inspirational leader for the profession for the past three years.

“However, I congratulate Wendy on winning what was a keenly fought election to replace him and I very much look forward to working with her to promote the voice of psychiatry and the needs of service users.”

Sir Simon, who was elected in 2014, said: “It has been an honour to serve the College as President over the last three years. A huge congratulations to Wendy on being elected. I hope she will love being president as much as I have."

More about the President-elect
Wendy Burn grew up in a medical family and always knew she wanted to be a doctor.

Her interest in psychiatry developed during her time spent as a houseman on a medical ward.

An early psychiatric placement was with the elderly and she found herself drawn towards this group.

Professor Burn said: “I loved getting to know my patients, and hearing the fascinating stories of their lives.”

Professor Burn became a consultant old age psychiatrist in Leeds in 1990 and now works full time in a community post. Her main clinical interest is dementia.

She has held a regional leadership role in this area from 2011 and was co-clinical lead for dementia for Yorkshire and the Humber Strategic Clinical Network between 2013 and 2016.

She also sits on national groups for the planning of dementia care.

Professor Burn has been heavily involved in postgraduate training since starting as a consultant and has held many roles in education, including setting up the Yorkshire School of Psychiatry and becoming the first head of school.

She was a senior organiser of clinical examinations at the College, deputy convenor, regional co-ordinator for continuing professional development and the deputy lead for national recruitment.

She co-chairs the Gatsby Wellcome Neuroscience Project, aimed at reworking the core training curriculum for psychiatry trainees.

From 2011 to 2016 she was College Dean.

For further information, please contact: