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

RCPsych in Northern Ireland monthly update

November 2017 - Report

Vice Chair, Dr Michael Doherty attended the launch of “The Story of Belfast City Hospital (1814 – 2017)” towards the start of the month

The Conference on Deaf People with Personality Disorders held by the European Society for Mental Health and Deafness at the University Hospital, Bilbao, Spain was held towards the start of the month, involving delegates from many European countries and the US. Dr Margaret du Feu attended and presented on Risk Factors and their Implications for Therapy. At the AGM, a new President, Stefania Fadda from Italy was elected, following the retirement of Dr Ines van Sleeboom from Holland. 


2 November: Dr Damien Hughes (Head for the School of Psychiatry at Northern Ireland Medical & Dental Training Agency -NIMDTA), featured in the College RCPsych Insight magazine for Autumn 2017.


4 November: Chair, Dr Gerry Lynch attended RCGP NI event at Great Hall, QUB where he spoke to the CMO and was happy to support Dr Grainne Doran, Chair of RCGP NI. 


6 November: Drs Gerry Lynch and Peter Trimble (Policy Lead) attended the final meeting of the Commission on Acute Adult Psychiatric Care. Dr Lynch updated from the NI perspective. Following this, Lord Nigel Crisp sent a letter on 9 November to Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride seeking an update on progress in NI towards his 8 recommendations, as well as the position of mental health within the vision for health and social care transformation set out in Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together. As well as Dr Lynch, speakers included Lord Crisp, Professor Wendy Burn, Professor Sir Simon Wessely, Dr Ranga Rao, Professor Tim Kendall, Karen Turner, Dr Adrian James, Sarah Khan, Mike Hunter, Bobby Pratap, Dr Amar Shah, Dr Lenny Cornwall, Jacqui Dyer and Denise Porter;


6 November: The RC Psych Awards ceremony 2017 took place in Central College, London with local interest being two nominations from Belfast Trust and one nomination from Northern Trust. Drs Maria O’Kane and Richard Wilson accompanied the nominees. Even though we had no local winners, getting this far is a big achievement.

Dr Michael Doris (pictured left) was nominated for Core Psychiatric Trainee of 2017 and his citation read:

Michael is an ST4 in intellectual disability psychiatry. He was joint winner Trainee Researcher of the Year (education and training) at the RCPsych International Congress 2016 for work on medical student resilience. He has had two literature reviews published in 2016.He was also awarded best oral presentation at the Scholarly Educational Research Network (SERN) conference. His current work includes helping run medical student-selected component at Queen’s University Belfast.

Dr Gráinne Donaghy (pictured centre) was nominated for Higher Psychiatric Trainee of 2017 and her citation read:

Grainne has greatly contributed to quality improvement and education. She established a trust-wide quality improvement training programme for foundation doctors and contributed to the development of a multi-professional programme for permanent staff. As well as mentoring a number of project groups, she has also directly collaborated on several projects to improve the physical health monitoring of psychiatric patients.

Eating Disorder Service, Northern Health and Social Care Trust (pictured right) was nominated for Team of 2017: Children and Adolescents – and their citation read:

The service has become the local leader in innovatory practice for children and adolescents. The team has creatively engaged with young people and families and with partner agencies to produce a bespoke model of care that has massively improved waiting times, patient engagement, development of experts by experience and hospital admissions.


L to R : Sinead Hutchinson Specialist Nurse Therapist, Carmel Milne Social Work Senior Practitioner, Leoni Dunne, Team Leader NHSCT CAMHS Eating Disorder Team, Professor Wendy Burn, Drs Maggie McGurgan and Richard Wilson


8 November: Dr Lynch attended the Policy Forum for NI Keynote Seminar event on Priorities for Primary Care in NI at Stormont Hotel, Belfast. Former Health Committee Chair, Paula Bradley MLA and former Health Committee member Mark H Durkan MLA were in attendance. Dr Lynch asked whether there was any scope for closer working between primary and secondary care and if you like, blurring or almost getting rid of the primary/secondary care boundaries? Dr Tom Black, Chair of BMA NI’s GP Committee welcomed the question and indicated that he would advocate that we should take patients off the hospital Trusts, put them in the middle ground in hubs and staff them with a combination of primary and secondary doctors with nurses - where psychiatry, among other things, would be better placed and waiting lists would be eased. He agreed that less boundaries would indeed be the way forward. Dr Grainne Doran, Chair of RCGP NI, said that it was a very important issue. She felt that the current divide ill served patients and clinicians alike. She had detected an increasing drive amongst professionals to change this and to work more collaboratively. Workload on both sides of the patient divide would require a considerable amount of goodwill from both GPs and Consultant colleagues to address it. She welcomed the considerable amount of interface work going on through the Royal Colleges across Northern Ireland and in collaboration with BMA and GMC colleagues to try and address these difficulties from within, rather than relying on the system, given that the system had already been failing us for far too long.


8 November: Coroner Joe McCrisken (pictured below third from left with (L to R) Drs Tony O’Neill (CPD Co-ordinator), Gerry Lynch and Philip McGarry) presented for us in Clifton House on “Coroners Law and Practice in NI” as part of our Masterclass series. This well attended event proved to be very worthwhile in terms of clarifying roles and functions, demystifying and creating a sense of openness. The external engagement by the recently appointed Coroners was widely welcomed, including in feedback afterwards.

L to R : Coroner Joe McCrisken with Dr Tony O'Neill


8 November: A joint You in Mind Mental Health Informatics along with Care Pathway Documentation Project Team meeting ( ie about both Informatics and the Care Pathway) –was held in Antrim and was attended by Drs Stephen Moore and Jo Minay. Once the process of merging IT and Clinical streams was discussed, more optimism was reported about the project not adversely impacting on workload issues.


9 November: It became clear that our local political crisis had impacted adversely on the timescale for the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing for Alcohol in RoI. 


10 November: Dr Stephen Moore (Chair of Informatics Committee) attended an Agile process workshop. Agile is broadly speaking a group of software development methodologies based on iterative development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between cross-functional teams.


13 November: Dementia Conference Planning Meeting at Holywell re 17 May 2018 event at Hilton Hotel - was attended by Chair and Staff.


13 November: NI Secretary of State announced Budget for NI to end of March 2018 and the fact that £50m of the promised £1billion (as part of the Confidence and Supply agreement between the  Conservative Party and the DUP) could be accessed in this financial year if the NI Civil Service wish to apply for same.


15 November: RCPsych in NI issued a Press Release welcoming the Supreme Court Judgement which dismissed the appeal and found in favour of the Scottish Government and Minimum Unit Pricing.


16 November: Drs Gerry Lynch, Richard Wilson and Ciaran Mulholland attended the Ambassador Awards at Belfast Titanic Hotel to represent the local College at this prestigious networking event for Belfast.


16 November:  University of Ulster launched its £5m multidisciplinary Institute of Mental Health Sciences at its Coleraine campus. The new Institute strategically aligns with the existing research and infrastructure related to mental health research at Ulster University and builds upon recent investments of £11m in the Centre for Stratified Medicine, £5m in Functional Brain-Mapping Facility and €8.6m of funding for the Centre for Precision Medicine. Over the next 5 years there will be investments in 6 new senior academic posts, 20 PhD studentships, postdoctoral research associates, a breadth of short courses, and the development of a new multi-disciplinary MSc in Mental Health Sciences. Scientists aligned to the Institute will work collaboratively on research, which examines the genetic underpinnings of mental health all the way through to how mental ill health issues can be alleviated through interventions promoting physical exercise. It is hoped that this research will transform scientific breakthroughs into life changing and life-saving interventions and treatments for those with mental health issues.


Pictured L-R Professor Carol Curran, Executive Dean, Life and Health Sciences; Professor Cathy Gormley Heenan, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research and Impact; Professor Cherie Armour, Associate Dean, Research and Impact.

Following the launch, a meeting between Dr Gerry Lynch and Professor Cherie Armour was arranged and will be held early in the New Year to explore this initiative’s useful collaboration potential for the local College.


16 November: Dr Ciaran Mulholland presented at the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland Winter Conference in Dunboyne Castle Hotel, Co Meath on “Psychosis and Political Violence: Lessons from the Conflict in NI”. This talk was grounded in the increasing awareness that psychotic conditions, such as schizophrenia, are far from impervious to the impact of the social environment – yet despite this, the role of conflict and war in the aetiology and course of psychotic illness has not been examined in detail to date. Consequently, a number of related studies which explore how experiences of childhood trauma, including traumas resulting from NI’s Troubles, impact on first episode psychosis, were presented.


17 November: Dr Liz Dawson attended the Elder Law Society Conference at Law Society House, Belfast. See CPD blog for a full report from Liz. Dr Barbara English (pictured below) was one of the guest speakers. 


L-R: Linda Johnston Solicitor, Dr Julian Sheather BMA, Ian Huddleston Law Society President, Eddie Lynch Commissioner for Older People & Dr Barbara English


17 November: Journalist Anne Hailes interviewed Dr David Bell in Clifton House re Phobias. It is hoped that this interview will be published in the Irish News around Christmas.


20 November: College meeting on greater College devolution was attended by Chair and Staff via Skype.


20 November: Response was received from Chris Matthews, DoH Director of Mental Health, Disability and Older People Policy - to our correspondence of 31 August setting out our priorities for the promised £50m for mental health in NI over 5 years (as part of the Confidence and Supply agreement between the  Conservative Party and the DUP). Hope was taken from its focus on trauma, primary care talking hubs, psychological therapies, drug and alcohol and substance misuse prevention, CAMHS, infant mental health, early intervention, parity of esteem, better physical healthcare monitoring for those with severe mental illness/eating disorder, suicide prevention, mental health promotion, enhancement of recovery model and co-production. However, because the money is not recurrent beyond the 5 years, particular emphasis will go to short term funding to promote transformation and pilot studies to develop new understanding. The absence of a Health Minister appears to be an obstacle to progress with this money also. However, the DoH are committed to keeping us appraised and engaged.


21 November: Mindwise issued a draft programme for the forthcoming PD joint event with Mindwise, ourselves and HSC at La Mon Hotel on 20 & 21 February 2018. Dr Catherine McDonnell is our representative on the Steering Group for this event.


21 November: Drs Stephen Moore and Jo Minay met with Briege and Martina from the You in Mind Project Team. Discussion took place in a positive and collegiate spirit around the assessment form and was broadly positive, with suggestions to simplify being taken on board. It was agreed that significant training will be needed and there was some discussion about how the College and other professional bodies should be consulted/used to help with this, given that much of the training will need to have a clear clinical focus and not just be classroom done. Potential progress on risk assessment was also reported.


21 November: DoH launched The Capacity, Consent & Decision Making Workshop project for those with ID . This is viewed as very welcome forward planning, because as well as teaching decision making skills, its intention is to also prepare service users and staff for the forthcoming implementation of the Mental Capacity Act (NI) 2016, assisting understanding of some of the difficult concepts in the Act.


21 November: Dr Deirdre Shields (Chair of Older Age Psychiatry Faculty) reported to the Central Faculty on Psychiatry of Old Age activities in NI.


22 November: Dr Gerry Lynch attended Crumlin Road Gaol event hosted by Nichola Mallon MLA with RoI Minister for Foreign Affairs (and now Deputy PM/Tanaiste), Simon Coveney TD giving an address on “Shaping Brexit”.

23 November: Dr Gerry Lynch was asked to address a session on the Mental Health Act at the June 2018 International Congress in Birmingham. This will be a comparative discussion of the three Acts across the four countries in the UK – looking at the key issues of the various reviews and redrafts, what can the countries learn from each other, what is the general direction etc.  It is hoped that Gerry will be joined at this session by Professor Simon Wessely as Chair of the MHA Review, Steve Gilbert as Vice Chair of the MHA Review, Chair of RCPsych in Scotland Dr John Crichton and Dr Clementine Maddock in relation to England and Wales.


23 November: Dr Noel Scott delivered a seminar entitled “Mental Capacity: Principles and Problems” at Law Society House, Belfast as part of the Law Society of NI CPD programme.  The session covered capacity history, information and guidelines and specific criteria for various capacity functions including testamentary capacity, capacity in decision making, as well as capacity to instruct Solicitors.


24 November: Dr Janine Lynch spoke at RCGP NI event at New Mossley, Newtownabbey providing a general update for GPs on Perinatal Mental Health, with emphasis on how to manage new and pre-existing psychiatric conditions like depression and anxiety.

24 November: Drs Gerry Lynch, Adrian East (Chair of Forensic Faculty), Rowan McClean (Chair of General Adult Faculty) and Boris Pinto met in Clifton House to discuss the relationship between Forensic Secure Services and Inpatient Rehabilitation Services in order to agree a joint approach to the issue.


24 November: College President Professor Wendy Burn asked for a representative from NI to sit on a small working group tasked to identify some core ethical principles which the College, as a whole, could sign up to in terms of Mental Health Law around the four Nations. Dr Gerry Lynch has agreed to become involved in this group.


27 November: Dr Richard Wilson (Chair of CAMHS Faculty) met with Chair of RCGP NI, Dr Grainne Doran at RCGP NI, Cromac Place, Belfast to discuss interface issues as between primary and secondary care. Specifically the co-development of a strategy for GP–Child & Adolescent Psychiatry integrated working was explored. Dr Wilson reported that the meeting was positive overall and highlighted the work which needs to be done to clarify and make progress on interface perceptions and issues which can impede the flow between primary and secondary care. The potential for our 2 local Colleges to take part in joint practice and learning in the CAMHS area was further explored, as were possibilities around co-development of services and electronic record exchange improvements.


28 November: Drs Janet Corry and Liz McMonagle met in Clifton House with Chair and Staff to discuss the Thomas Freeman Prize traditionally determined and awarded at our annual Research, Audit and QI day in September.


28 November: Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride responded to Lord Nigel Crisp’s letter of 9 November.


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Dr Gerry Lynch

Dr Gerry Lynch, Chair RCPsychNI

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