Goodbye and thank you Wendy, welcome Adrian!

Online news
01 July 2020
Today we said a fond farewell – and thank you – to Professor Wendy Burn after three great years as our President, and welcomed Dr Adrian James as he stepped into the role.

Professor Burn formally passed the Presidency to Dr James at the College’s Annual General Meeting 5pm-6.30pm today, which was conducted virtually for the first time in the AGM’s history.

Dr James – accompanied by our Chief Executive Paul Rees – were at the College’s London office for the occasion, but other delegates joined remotely.

Welcome, Adrian

Adrian becomes the College’s 47th President after winning the Presidential election at the start of the year.

A forensic psychiatrist and front-line clinician for 33 years, he has served as the College’s Registrar for the last five years. 

As President, he sees his priorities as   

  • addressing racism and inequality
  • achieving equity between physical and mental health
  • supporting the workforce, and 
  • putting sustainability at the heart of all College work. 

Even before taking over, Adrian has been putting the building blocks in place, and has recruited two race and equality leads to help him with the first priority. 


Dr James said: “I’m humbled and delighted to become President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

“This is a pivotal time for psychiatry. I will focus my energies on achieving parity of esteem, addressing workforce wellbeing and championing diversity and the needs of marginalised groups.

“It is a great honour and I am determined to do everything I can to work with members and the College’s excellent staff team to make my Presidency a success.”

Goodbye and thank you Wendy

Wendy has overseen an unprecedented period as President of the College, culminating in the last few months where the College has needed to find ways of keeping up the same excellent standard of service during a pandemic.

We are grateful for her leadership which was characterised by a willingness to engage people, both on social media and in person. 

Wendy was determined to hold the government to account for funding of mental health services and the College played a huge role in that, strongly influencing the Long Term Plan for healthcare in England and obtaining a promise to grow investment in mental health services above the NHS budget increases for five years.

The College’s Choose Psychiatry campaign has also been a great success under her Presidency, while RCPsych also introduced new values for members and staff, and last year won European Diversity Charity of the Year.

Wendy also successfully delivered the College's major project to create new training on neuroscience, and secured an extra three years funding from The Gatsby Foundation and The Wellcome Trust, to support valuable work to embed it into the curriculum. 

Wendy said: "The last three years have flown by. Being the President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists has been the honour of my life.

“I am absolutely delighted that Dr Adrian James has been chosen by our members to take over from me. 

“I know that he will bring passion and commitment to the continuation of the work that I have been doing to ensure that care for our patients is improved. I am confident that under his leadership the College will continue to go from strength to strength."

Read Wendy’s blog about her term as President.

Other key changes

The College welcomed a number of other people into key positions.

  • Dr Trudi Seneviratne OBE become Registrar of the College.
  • Dr Richard Wilson as Chair of RCPsych Northern Ireland
  • Dr Maria Atkins as Chair of RCPsych Wales
  • Professor Hugo Critchley as Chair of the Academic Faculty
  • Dr Josanne Holloway as Chair of the Forensic Faculty
  • Dr Michael Dilley as Chair of the Neuropsychiatry Faculty
  • Dr Mani Krishnan as Chair of the Old Age Faculty
  • Dr Joanne Black as Chair of the Perinatal Faculty
  • Dr Rohit Shankar as Chair of the South Western Division
  • Dr Paul Walker as Chair of the Northern and Yorkshire Division.

We thank all the people who have occupied these roles to such a high standard and are stepping down today.

See the updated RCPsych Council including the biographies of all new and existing members.