College CEO accepts new position after seven successful years

Online news
04 September 2023

The Chief Executive of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Paul Rees MBE has accepted the role of Chief Executive at the National Pharmacy Association, after seven successful years at the College. 

Since joining as CEO in 2016 and working alongside the RCPsych Board, Council and Senior Management Team, Paul has helped transform the College into an award-winning, values-based organisation which has grown to more than 21,000 members – up from 17,900 when he joined. 

During his tenure, the College was named Charity of the Year in the European Diversity Awards. The College’s Choose Psychiatry campaign also won a string of Memcom UK membership sector awards including for Best Marketing Campaign; Best Recruitment and Retention Strategy; and Best Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Campaign. The College was highly commended in the Memcom awards for two consecutive years for providing Best Member Support. 

Under Paul’s leadership, the College has helped to expand the psychiatry workforce with record numbers of doctors electing to sit the College’s MRPsych examination in recent years. The College’s ‘Choose Psychiatry’ marketing campaign has increased the fill rate in UK core psychiatric training places from an average of 65-69% in the UK to around 100% for the past four years. The College’s International Congress continues to grow in popularity attracting a record 3,600 delegates in 2019.  

In 2023, the College was named as being in the top 100 employers in the UK for LGBTQ+ inclusivity and was recently highlighted as a model employer by the Equality and Human Rights Commission via an online case study. 

During Paul’s time at the helm, the College also reduced its gender pay gap to just 2.85% - down from 17% in 2019 - and reduced its ethnicity pay gap to just 5.81%. 

Much of the College’s success during his period at the organisation has been driven by the rollout of the College values of Courage, Innovation, Respect, Collaboration, Learning and Excellence. 

As a result of his work, Paul won the Louis Armstrong CEO Leadership Award in 2020 and was made an MBE, by the Her Majesty The Queen, for services to mental health, and equality, diversity and inclusion in 2022. 

Paul said:

“It has been an honour and a privilege to work as the Chief Executive of the Royal College of Psychiatrists for the last seven years, during which time we have played a key role in pushing mental health to the top of the political agenda; promoted the benefits of psychiatry and helped increase the number of foundation doctors choosing psychiatry as a career. 

“The Board, Council, members and staff at the RCPsych have been amazing to work with – and together we have achieved so much in terms of shaping the debate externally, and improving standards and quality of care, while internally helping the College become a high-performing, values-based organisation that promotes equity, diversity and inclusion. 

“During my time with the RCPsych, I have had the good fortune to work alongside four amazing Presidents: Professor Sir Simon Wessely, Professor Wendy Burn CBE, Dr Adrian James and Dr Lade Smith CBE – as well as with a great Honorary Officer team. 

“And of course, none of our success would have been possible without the tireless work of our amazing volunteer members – and our staff team, who I believe are the best in the medical royal college sector.” 

President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Dr Lade Smith CBE said:

“On behalf of members and staff working at the College, I would like to thank Paul for the leadership he has shown over the past seven years. The College is a very different place today and much of that is down to Paul’s vision and drive. Paul has made an enormous contribution to the development of psychiatry and the College during his tenure and we are incredibly grateful for his hard work and commitment. We wish him the very best for the future.” 

Paul will remain in post until November. A recruitment process for his replacement as CEO will be announced in due course.