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

RCPsych in Northern Ireland monthly update

December 2017 - Report


The Report this month begins by highlighting two pieces of writing authored by members, which were recently published, and which will inform and hopefully prompt discussion:

The first of these is an article  on the Mental Capacity Act (NI) 2016, which appeared in the December 2017 Psychiatric Bulletin, penned by Drs Gerry Lynch, Catherine Taggart and Phil Campbell.
















The second is the following on the subject of “Wellbeing and Mental Health in the University Student Population: How can we ensure better care for our student population?” - penned by Vice Chair Dr Michael Doherty (at pages 3 & 4) of a recent iMind Newsletter of the Faculty of General Adult Psychiatry.  


1 December: Dr Michael Doherty (pictured below left) attended a Conference in the MAC entitled: “Can health and social care be transformed in a political vacuum?” Dr Doherty reported that it was a very stimulating debate with many views about what can and cannot be achieved in the health service in Northern Ireland in the absence of a local government. Please click here to listen (from 1.50 to 10.05 approx) to audio report on NVTV Focal Point broadcast.


M Doherty


















1 December: Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Faculty chaired by Dr Richard Wilson held their final meeting of the year in Clifton House. Discussions included forward planning for 2018 and in particular the joint meeting with the Ulster Paediatric Society which will take as its theme “Adolescent Mental Health – Bridge over Troubled Water”.


1 December: Dr Gerry Lynch met with CPD Co-ordinator Dr Tony O’Neill and Staff to discuss CPD Planning for 2018.


1 December: Faculty of Old Age Psychiatry met in the McCracken Suite in Clifton House, chaired by local Faculty Chair Dr Deirdre Shields (pictured below right along with Dr Amanda Thompsell left). Dr Shields afterwards reflected that whilst there are undoubtedly many challenges and changes ahead, the Faculty aims to secure the future of Old Age Psychiatry and meet the needs of the growing ageing population – and events such as this, serve this purpose for members. The event was indeed seen as of very practical value by delegates, with Dr Lauren Edgar’s feedback being as follows: We were privileged to have Dr Amanda Thompsell, Chair of Central Psychiatry of Old Age (POA) Faculty, attend our meeting and present “A New Age for Old Age Psychiatry”. Dr Thompsell delivered a passionate talk about the future of POA, emphasising the importance of raising the profile of the specialty to ensure mental health in older people is seen as a priority, and that as a Faculty we are consulted on matters pertinent to this. There was an interesting debate in relation to changing the name of the Faculty, with concern that the term ‘old’ is ageist. The terms ‘older’ and ‘ageing’ were suggested, with further discussion and debate planned for the Newcastle meeting in March 2018. Dr Thompsell talked about recruitment and retention issues within POA, however commended us on our rates of recruitment in Northern Ireland and the positive work we undertake to maintain this. Future training within the specialty is under review, with consideration of placements in geriatric medicine and neurology to further develop knowledge and skills. It is felt there is a significant lack of physical health training at present. Following on from this discussion, Dr Zoe Moore presented on venous thromboembolism in psychiatry wards. She reflected on a case she had been involved in, presented an audit and discussed the evidence base for risk assessment and prophylaxis. This reinforced the importance of physical healthcare training in POA and the impact this can have on patient care.”




1 December: Psychiatrists in Private Practice Special Interest Group (PIPSIG) chaired by Dr John Sharkey held their final meeting of the year in Clifton House. (PIPSIG members find these meetings of significant importance as they cover many important elements in Appraisal and Revalidation, as well as providing CPD. Please contact Dr John Sharkey if interested in joining.) Dr Chris Kelly presented on Serious Adverse Events Reviews, which provoked a very useful discussion. It is hoped that Dr Noel Scott will present at the next meeting on “Current Thoughts on Mental Capacity”. Much of the meeting was taken up with plans regarding the upcoming conference approved by the Central PIPSIG Executive Committee, which will take place at the Ulster Reform Club on 8-9 March 2018.

5 December: Dr Deirdre Shields, as Chair of Old Age Faculty, thanked Eddie Ritson for his invitation to Old Age Faculty re dementia analytics and nominated Dr Conor Barton (Vice Chair of Old Age Faculty) to represent RCPsych in NI on the project. The background is that in 2016, Department of Health approved a Business Case for the Health and Social Care Board to take forward a programme of work entitled “eHealth & Data Analytics Dementia Pathfinder Programme”. The Programme, sometimes referred to as phase 2, follows the recently concluded Dementia Together Programme; like phase 1 it falls under the NI Assembly “Delivering Social Change” programme and is jointly funded by Atlantic Philanthropies, the Executive Office and DoH.  Eddie Ritson is the Programme Director for the Programme. One of the key objectives for the Programme is “to commission a series of (10) dementia analytics projects exploring issues critical to patient outcomes and service planning and to assist in service development and design.”  Each such project may attract funding of up to £100k. To guide the Programme in delivering against this objective it is intended to establish a Dementia Analytics and Research User Group which will be multi-disciplinary by nature and will also have input from community and voluntary sector as well as service users themselves. Appropriate clinical guidance is also necessary – hence the invitation. The first meeting of the group is scheduled for January 2018, at which stage the Terms of Reference and the methodology and timescale for taking the work forward will be agreed.


6 December: A well attended Mental Health Order (NI) 1986 and Mental Health Review Tribunal Workshop was held in Clifton House, with the 1986 Order introduced by Dr Peter Sloan. Both Patrick Convery and Nicola Lewis from RQIA then addressed prescribed forms, followed by Dr Fred Browne on Tribunal Report writing. Director of Legal Services in the Business Services Organisation Alphy Maginness then illustrated what is required from the Responsible Medical Officer, as well as some learning culled from recent Judicial Reviews, before Learning and Development Consultant Bernadette Hamilton spoke on Guardianship. The event concluded with an overview of the Tribunal and best practice addressed by Tribunal President Attracta Wilson, Social Worker Bernadette Hamilton, Service User Martin Daly, Medical Doctor Dr Andrew Collins, Legal Representative for Patients Louise Arthurs of Belfast Law Centre, Legal Representative for Trusts Claudine Quinn and Lay Member Representative Mark Campbell. The event was guided by Programme Co-ordinators Drs Michael Doherty, Annette Thampi, Rachael McMenamin, Michael Doris and Simon Patterson – with the latter two also acting as Chairs on the day. A Poster Presentation was available from Dr Niall Corrigan which detailed a study on Belfast Health and Social Care Trust patient outcomes in the 12 month period following application for a Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT). Patients whose detention was upheld by a Tribunal were more likely to be male and suffering from a non-affective psychosis. There was no statistically significant correlation between patient outcomes and MHRT decisions. 


6 December: Dr Michael Doherty, representing the College, attended the second meeting of the Universities UK Task Group on Mental Health Services in Higher Education. The aim is to develop good practice guidelines for the commissioning and delivery of student mental health service and partnership working between statutory care services and University-provided services​. The final report will be produced in Spring 2018.

7 December: Dr Gerry Lynch chaired the final Executive meeting for 2017 in Clifton House. A full agenda included planning for Strategy meetings to be held on 7 February and 23 May 2018 at the Girdwood Community Hub. The hope is to construct a 5 year forward view for mental health services in Northern Ireland. Chair of Forensic Faculty Dr Adrian East provided members with an insightful overview of the issues and challenges facing Forensic colleagues, who hope to launch a paper during 2018 highlighting some of these themes.

8 December: Drs Gerry Lynch and Michael Doherty met at Clifton House with Staff to draft our response to the GMC Consultation on Outcomes for Graduates. They also drafted a response to one aspect of the Department for Communities Consultation on A Fundamental Review of Social Housing Allocations. Please visit our website for all relevant links.

11 December: Journalist Anne Hailes’ interview with Dr David Bell on the topic of Phobias was published in the Irish News.


Irish News























































11 December: Vice Chair Dr Michael Doherty represented the local College at the Northern Ireland Human Rights’ Commission Annual Statement Launch at the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings, Stormont, where guest speaker was the Right Honourable Harriet Harman QC MP.

11 December: Staff attended a Briefing by Skype with College Chief Executive Paul Rees;

11 December: Staff met via Slack with the College Digital Team to discuss how the Slack digital platform could be used and developed for local members to discuss the Mental Capacity Act (NI) 2016.


12 December: Perinatal Faculty chaired by Dr Julie Anderson held their final meeting of the year in Clifton House and the agenda was dominated by planning for their 13 April 2018 Conference in Malone House.


13 December: The final Masterclass of 2017 was held in the McCracken Suite in Clifton House. Once again a large number of members attended, this time to hear Drs Conor Barton and Joe Kane (pictured left to right with Chair Dr Gerry Lynch) speak on “A Guide to Neurology and Neuroscience – a refresher for Psychiatrists”. Imaging, Immune-medicated hypothesis of schizophrenia, Consciousness and Thought, Glutamate Hypothesis, Dementia and Sleep, as well as Affective Disorders, were all covered. Feedback was extremely positive.





























13 December: Staff attended the 135th Annual Benn Dinner in Clifton House, hosted by our landlord, Belfast Charitable Society.
























14 December: Policy Lead Dr Peter Trimble attended Central College Neuropsychiatry Faculty Executive via teleconference.


15 December: Dr Gerry Lynch attended a Queen’s University of Belfast School of Law hosted workshop for the Economic and Social Research Council Brexit project ‘Health Law outside the EU: Immediate, Intermediate and Long Term Impacts’ which began on 1 May 2017 and will run for 18 months. This project is part of the broader Economic and Social Research Council ‘UK in a Changing Europe Initiative’. The Principal Investigator for this project is Professor Jean McHale and Professor Tamara Hervey is the other Co-Investigator.


15 December: Staff attended NICVA for Data Protection Training;


15 December: Dr Gerry Lynch met with CAUSE (Families, Partners, Friends caring for mental health) representatives Valerie Sullivan (Chief Executive) and Dr May McCann (Board of Directors Chair) to discuss Carer issues of mutual concern.


15 December: NI Clinical Research Network held their final meeting for 2017 in Clifton House.


17 December: Dr David Bell’s interview on Phobias with Anne Hailes was featured in her blog.


David Bell

















19 December: Dr Richard Wilson was featured on UTV at the request of the charity Fixers. By way of background, Fixers were awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and they assist young people aged 16-25 to campaign on an issue which concerns them - and once a month they pick a group or individual and make a short feature about them for UTV Live. This month they featured a group of teenagers from the New Lodge area of North Belfast who are raising awareness of how using social media can impact one’s mental health in a negative way.  They have already made a film with help from the Creative Resources team at Fixers and they plan to take this around schools and Colleges. Dr Wilson was featured in order to give the Clinician view on how a young person’s mental health might be impacted by social media. 


20 December: Addictions Faculty met in Clifton House for their final meeting of 2017 at which Dr Billy Gregg succeeded Dr Helen Toal as their Chair.


20 December: GAIN Guidelines revision meeting was held in Clifton House with Drs Caroline Donnelly, Peter Sloan and Roinin McNally in attendance as well as Bernadette Hamilton and Staff. Plans were set out to carry out the final aspects of this work in early 2018.




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Dr Gerry Lynch

Dr Gerry Lynch, Chair RCPsychNI

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