New President responds to calls to address racism in psychiatry

Press release
01 July 2020

Dr Adrian James, the College's new President, has issued this statement in response to calls to address racism in psychiatry. 

Dr James said: "We welcome colleagues who are joining us in the battle against systemic racism in mental health services and the wider NHS which we spearheaded two years ago when we were the first Royal College to condemn systemic racism in the NHS and pledge to combat it.

"Since then we built on that momentum to support the transformation of mental health services in the frontline, with initiatives such as our recent guidance in response to the urgent issue of the high and disproportionate numbers of deaths of BAME healthcare staff due to Covid-19.   

"Last year we developed the Advancing Mental Health Equality guidance and we contributed to the Mental Health Act review with specific recommendations aimed at improving outcomes for black people.  

"Following the horrific killing of George Floyd we joined our voices with the Black Lives Matter movement to end the violence of racism and the pain and trauma it reaps.   

"Building on these foundations, I have newly appointed two presidential leads for race and equality, Dr Lade Smith and Dr Raj Mohan who will be joining me alongside CEO, Paul Rees in a task force with a relentless focus upon the actions that need to be taken to end the injustice of racism.  

"The task force will set out a race and equality action plan to investigate systemic racism across the healthcare system and to ensure a fair and equitable experience of care at every level. We have already recommended enhanced cultural competency training within psychiatry curricula, which are being reviewed by the GMC.   

"One of the strongest messages to come from the Black Lives Matter movement is that it’s time for action not just words. This is not the time for yet another commission. There is already a huge amount of evidence and recommendations on what must be done. Now we must rapidly bring that knowledge together and act as soon as possible to bring about the change that's urgently needed. "

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