Monday, 20 May
At the APA
Last Thursday, I flew to San Francisco
for the 2013 Annual
Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). It
has been a fascinating conference - the first part of which
was dominated by publication of DSM-5.
120,000 copies left the shelves in the first few hours. And it is
not only DSM-5 that is rising quickly up the Amazon sales charts -
so, too, are copies of those publications opposed to
At the conference, there have been many
impressive keynote speakers - including Bill Clinton (see right).
I've also been pleased to see so many speakers and presenters from
the UK. The College stand is also proving very popular -
displaying a wide range of RCPsych
Publications and information leaflets,
of which the College, our authors, and our Communications and
Publications departments can be rightly proud.
Yesterday, I attended a very good session about progress with
the revision of
the International Classicfication of Disease (ICD). As many of
you know, ICD-11 is due out in 2015. I would urge you all to look
at the website, so as to be prepared by understanding the
principles upon which this classification will be based. Please
also join in the field trials, as this will shape our practice for
years to come.
At the session, we heard that ICD-11 will especially look at
differentiation from normal. Every disorder will have a 100
word summary definition with details of essential features,
boundary with normality and boundary with other disorders.
I am looking forward to the International
Reception on Tuesday evening, where there will be an opportunity to
meet up with colleagues and College members from across the
Although the programme here is extremely
busy, I am finding a few spare moments to explore the city. The
streets of San Francisco are, I guess, like many large vibrant
coastal cities across the world - a rich mixture of busy people,
homelessness and street performance artists. I've been enjoying the
amazing seafront vistas of the Golden Gate and (closer to my
clinical world!) Alcatraz. I hope my Grandson likes his Alcatraz
t-shirt that I'm bringing back for him.
The big mental health debate
Last Thursday saw the second backbench Commons debate on mental
health, following the one that took place in June 2013. It was
a five-hour debate with input from MPs of all parties, and,
briefing, many interesting topics ranging from stigma, crisis
care, BME communities, welfare reform, alcohol and the need for
parity of esteem between mental and physical health. A number
of MPs have called for the debate to become an annual event as a
way of “reducing the stigma that is attached to mental illness,
increasing understanding of it, and also, quite correctly, holding
the Government to account on how their policies develop”.
Former Care Service Minister Paul Burstow MP, who led the
debate, highlighted the work of the College in relation to parity,
and Kevan Jones MP thanked the College, and others, for "doing a
great job of raising the issue and tackling the stigma".
Former GP Dr Sarah Wollaston MP raised the issue of integration
and the importance of liaison psychiatry as "greatly appreciated by
patients and provide an excellent way for them to receive services;
moreover, they are incredibly cost-effective".
It is good to see all our efforts in areas such as parity being
used to shape debate, influence opinion and ultimately help us
deliver for our patients. If you have time I would encourage
read the text of the debate or watch
Investing in technology
Last week I received a letter from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt,
about launching the
£260m technology fund for hospitals on Friday. The announcement
formed part of the response to the Francis report, which called on
the NHS to make better use of technology to improve care. I welcome
this announcement, and hope it will fully include mental health
services. We need integrated data which ensures that vital
information is shared - allowing patients with mental illness
to receive high quality and timely care, while ensuring
appropriate confidentiality. The government has already
acknowledged that we have good examples of health informatics in
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