Last night we said a fond farewell – and thank you – to Dr Adrian James after three amazing years as our President, and bid a big welcome to Dr Lade Smith CBE.
Adrian formally passed the Presidency to Lade at the College’s Annual General Meeting 6-8pm yesterday, which took place in person at the RCPsych Congress in Liverpool, with members joining online from around the world.
Goodbye and thank you Adrian
Adrian has overseen an unprecedented period as President of the College, taking over during the first year of the pandemic.
As he reflects in his final monthly blog post his Presidency may be best remembered by the reforms, reviews, bills and acts which the College influenced relating to COVID, but we also saw great progress on his Presidential priorities too.
For workforce wellbeing, as well as providing a huge amount of information and support to members as soon as the pandemic started and throughout, the College was also involved in a number of other initiatives to achieve our objective of enabling members to feel safe, valued and thrive.
These included the launch of a members’ wellbeing hub, coaching and mentoring schemes for members, and the launch of an Enjoying Work collaborative for trusts and other employer organisations to take part in.
In terms of the Presidential priority of parity of esteem, new waiting time and access standards have been piloted and there’s a new duty on all Integrated Care Boards, while progress was made against pledges in the Long Term Plan. We saw mental health services accessed more.
Huge progress took place on the Presidential priority of Equality Diversity and Inclusion, starting with the publication of a 29 point Equality Action Plan in 2021. Of those, 26 actions have now been achieved and the remaining three are well on their way to being delivered.
Our first ever members EDI survey was followed by a wide range of initiatives, and the College won a number of awards including the MEMCOM award in 2022 for Best Equality, Diversity and Inclusion campaign and, in February 2023, a Stonewall Gold award, having been ranked 90th top employer for creating an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace.
On the last full day of his Presidency, Adrian announced the launch of new Tackling racism in the workplace guidance and an #ActAgainstRacism campaign to embed the guidance in employer organisations across the UK.
And in terms of his Presidential priority around sustainability, the College published a powerful position statement in 2021 ‘Our planet’s climate and ecological emergency’ setting out our aim to reach net zero for outputs we directly control by 2040. Since then much good work has happened with a lot more still to do to ensure the College can reach its target.
“It has been the honour of my life to serve as President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
“I have particularly enjoyed seeing the amazing work our members do in the UK and across the world to improve outcomes for patients. Truly inspiring and often against all odds. Thank you.
“I hand the Presidency on to the best person possible, Lade Smith – an awesome human being and a talented compassionate psychiatrist.”
Lade becomes the College’s first black President and the fifth woman President – as well as the 48th President since RCPsych was established in 1971 – after winning the Presidential election at the start of the year.
She has been joint Presidential lead for Race and Equality and played a leading role in the development of our Tackling racism in the workplace guidance.
Lade was also Strategic Director of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health at the College.
Lade’s Presidential priorities are:
- Nurturing and supporting psychiatrists to retain and strengthen our workforce.
- Addressing the treatment gap: fight for resources to deliver therapeutic care.
- Fairness for all: tackling inequality for patients and staff.
“I was amazed and delighted to be chosen to be the next President of the RCPsych.
“I am very aware that I am standing on the shoulders of giants. All the work that has been done by previous Presidents has culminated in people at all levels of society understanding the importance of mental healthcare and the role of psychiatrists in leading this.
“I am particularly grateful to Dr Adrian James, for his kindness, thoughtfulness, wisdom and above all courage.
“I will work hard with all of you to support psychiatrists so we can thrive in our jobs as this in turn will improve patient care; work collaboratively with system partners to address the treatment gap; continue to strive for fairness for all (doctors and patients) and finally, raise the profile of psychiatry so that we can truly effect change for the better.”
Lade was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2019. In November 2019 she was awarded Psychiatrist of the Year and featured in HSJ’s list of 100 influential Black, Asian and minority ethnic leaders. In July 2020, she became joint Presidential Lead for Race and Equality for the RCPsych.