The Royal College of Psychiatrists publishes a new Equality Action Plan

Online news
14 January 2021

The Royal College of Psychiatrists is today launching a new Equality Action Plan, which sets out the plan to promote equality and equitable outcomes for College members, staff, mental health staff, and patients and carers. 

The plan contains 29 key actions, which will be rolled out between now and the end of 2023. 

The issue of equality and diversity is one of President Dr Adrian James’s major priorities for his term of office. 

Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:  

“We are opposed to all forms of prejudice and believe that everyone should be treated fairly regardless of sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, gender re-assignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, religion and belief, or age. Discrimination and prejudice, based on any of the protected characteristics, is inherently wrong and can lead to profound distress and unhappiness, which negatively affects mental wellbeing.  
“To promote equality, we need to implement a process and a system that puts these goals centre-stage at every turn. We need clear actions that help us achieve traction and momentum. An organisation that celebrates diversity, and delivers equality, ensures fairness and allows everyone to give of their best.” 

President Adrian James has been elected to the board of the NHS Race and Health Observatory, an independent body hosted by the NHS Confederation and supported by NHS England and NHS Improvement, that will examine long-standing health inequalities affecting Black, Asian and minority ethnic patients and communities, including maternity and neonatal outcomes, mental health, data and digital access to healthcare – as well as the immediate challenges of the impact of the pandemic. 

Equality and diversity is a key objective in the College’s new strategy, Excellent patient care in a changing world published on Friday 1 January. 

Under the Equality Action Plan, which dovetails into the College strategy, the College commits to a range of measures including: 

  • Promoting equality for all psychiatrists in their places of work, by assessing data on the experience and outcomes of different groups of doctors – for instance, SAS doctors – in career progression, appointments, leadership roles and referrals to regulators, and by engaging with members to understand their experiences, and developing guidance to support employers to stamp out discrimination. 
  • Campaigning to persuade other healthcare provider organisations to ensure that training around equality, equity, the impact of unconscious bias on decision making, structural inequalities, and power differentials in mental health are mandated for all mental health staff.  
  • Supporting and encouraging all health bodies and providers to make better use of mental health service datasets including the number of detentions, the frequency of detentions, the length of stay, age, sex, ethnicity, and other protected characteristics to underpin equitable outcomes in service delivery. 
  • Reviewing the core and higher training curricula to ensure they adequately reflect the knowledge and skills required to deliver clinical care that is equitable for all, including understanding the impact of structural inequalities and power differentials within mental health, and 
  • Joining Stonewall's Workplace Equality Index programme, and working with other external organisations to promote understanding of mental health needs of LGBTQ+ people and promote initiatives to improve equality. 

The plan was formulated following discussions held by an RCPsych Equality Taskforce, which was co-chaired by Adrian James and Chief Executive Paul Rees, and incorporated a range of people including doctors, College staff and patient and carer representatives. 

The publication of the plan also follows the holding of four roundtable discussions on equality issues. These were chaired by Presidential Lead on Race Equality Dr Rajesh Mohan, Presidential Lead on Race Equality Dr Shubulade Smith, Rainbow Special Interest Group CDr Maire Cooney, and the Co-Chairs of Women in Mental Health Special Interest Group Dr Beena Rajkumar and Dr Ruth Reed respectively.