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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Observations on the news

Wednesday, 16 May

On Tuesday, Paul Burstow made a written Ministerial statement in relation to relation to Winterbourne View private hospital and other services for people with learning disabilities. In it, he said that the Department intends to publish an interim report before summer recess, based on the findings of the Care Quality Commission summary report and other evidence from the engagement with key partners, which will set out proposed actions and solutions.

There is work for the College to do around this issue, and I’m sure that our Faculty of the Psychiatry of Intellectual Disability will have a major part to play in how we can drive positive and safe user-empowered care and treatment for this vulnerable group of individuals.

I’ve been interested to see all the work the RCN has done this week around cuts to services – they reported the results of a new survey indicating that cuts are hitting the most vulnerable in society, and warned there is ‘nowhere to turn’ for patients as cuts hit the community. I am asking the RCN if they have specific data on whether the staffing cuts they’ve described includes mental health nurses, whether in inpatient or community settings.

But it’s clear that it’s not only nursing that’s being affected. I’m receiving feedback from our psychologist colleagues that they are also facing problems with posts and, as I go round the country talking to our members, I’m hearing that the 2 for 1 phenomenon is increasing. This is when a consultant psychiatrist retires, and a locum is put in place. A few years later, a second consultant psychiatrist retires and only one consultant post is kept. The RCN have shown that they can collect data that counts, and is important that we do the same. Please do let me know what’s happening to you on the ground.

I was also interested to read the reports this week that parents are to be given more financial control over support for children with special educational needs. It is clear that children with emotional and behavioural disorders should have their needs identified and met much earlier. For this to happen, it’s vital that child psychiatrists, GPs, paediatricians and public health doctors work together to, especially in times of shrinking resources.

Sue

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