Top psychiatrists recognised for their work during the pandemic with New Year’s Honours

Online news
30 December 2020

Today, Her Majesty the Queen announced the New Year Honours list and we are delighted that RCPsych leaders have been recognised for their contributions to psychiatry and mental health during the pandemic. 

Our immediate past President, Professor Wendy Burn, has been awarded a CBE for services to mental health. Professor Alka Ahuja the Finance Officer, Child and Adolescent faculty and the Public Education lead at RCPsych Wales has been awarded an MBE for pioneering use of video technology that was used by the Welsh Government. 

Two psychiatrists in Northern Ireland were also honoured. Dr Oliver Shanks was awarded an OBE for services to the vulnerable in Northern Ireland and former Northern Ireland chair, Dr Phil McGarry, received an OBE for services to Mental Health and to the community in Belfast.

Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: ''I would like to present my heartiest congratulations all of our members who were recognised. Their honours are richly deserved.

"Alka has worked tirelessly to improve user and carer involvement in healthcare services. She has pioneered the development and use of technology for mental health patients and services.  

"Wendy’s contribution to the College has been immense. She has always seen the value in people whether that is fighting for the patient’s interests or improving work conditions for staff.  

“She led the College’s response to Covid-19 and ensured there was support for our members from day one. She is a great example of how empathy and commitment can bring great change to the way we provide treatment and care.”  

Paul Rees, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “This is wonderful news and I would like to congratulate all those whose effort have been awarded an honour.

"During these unprecedented times The Royal College of Psychiatrists has continued to ensure that mental health and physical health are equally represented and respected during the pandemic.  

“These honours are an indication of the frontline role our members have played during the pandemic.” 

Details of recipients  

Professor Wendy Burn CBE: In 2017 Professor Burn was elected the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Professor Burn is a leading old age and dementia psychiatrist. She is the co-chair of the RCPsych Gatsby Wellcome Neuroscience Project, Chair of the clinical group at Equally Well and the national clinical mental health advisor at Health Education England. She continues to work part time as an old age psychiatrist in Leeds.

Professor Alka Ahuja MBE: Professor Ahuja is a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and the Lead Consultant for the Tertiary Neurodevelopmental service at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board. Alka is the National Clinical lead for the Welsh Government Technology Enabled Care Programme. She is the Finance Officer, Child and Adolescent Faculty of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Public Education lead, Royal College of Psychiatrists in Wales. Also, a Visiting Professor at the Welsh Institute for Health and Social Care, University of South Wales. 

Dr Phil McGarry OBE: Dr McGarry, who has worked for Belfast Health and Social Care Trust for 30 years - and was chair of the RCPsych Northern Ireland executive during 2009-13, received the OBE for services to mental health and the community of Belfast.

Dr Oliver Shanks OBE: Dr Shanks received the OBE for services to the vulnerable in Northern Ireland (Belfast).