President's column

Some good news following on from last month’s column. I described how the Society was making the case that psychologists should be one of the professional groups able to fulfill the role of clinical supervisor as set out in the new Mental Health Bill. The report of the joint scrutiny committee to which we have been giving evidence is now available (www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/jcdmhb.cfm) and it is wholly supportive of the BPS position.

Some good news following on from last month’s column. I described how the Society was making the case that psychologists should be one of the professional groups able to fulfill the role of clinical supervisor as set out in the new Mental Health Bill. The report of the joint scrutiny committee to which we have been giving evidence is now available (www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/jcdmhb.cfm) and it is wholly supportive of the BPS position. The report states: ‘We agree with the British Psychological Society that the fundamental role of the Clinical Supervisor is to assess and coordinate the patient’s care and treatment needs… Psychologists possess the competencies.’ The scrutiny committee endorsed our views on emphasising a modern multidisciplinary team approach to mental health care, moving decisively away from seeing the prescription of medication as an essential core skill for this role. I also said that the Society would press for appropriate training for the role, and the scrutiny committee agreed that regulations should stipulate the appropriate standards and competencies to be demonstrated following training. The Society will ensure that such training is provided, and not restricted to any one Division. Obviously, many clinical psychologists will wish to continue their professional development in this direction, but so also will many of those from other groups, such as forensic and neuropsychology. Of course, since there will now be a new Parliament after the general election, it has become even harder to say what form any legislation will eventually take.

Thanks to all of you who have sent us your responses to the public consultation document on statutory regulation. We have been analysing and feeding back to you the spectrum of views on this, and a draft BPS response will be posted on our website by 10 May. This will give you a further chance to have your say before we submit our final response by 9 June. As before, all comments please to Mike Carpenter at [email protected].

Walking the streets of London is always a pleasure, even more so with a goal in mind. The last Representative Council gave clear support for the Trustees’ decision to find a new London office that will not only be disability compliant but will allow us to develop membership services, for example by giving us our own venue for smaller conferences, and providing appropriate rooms for even our largest committees and boards, and indeed the Council itself. It will also provide the opportunity for an area of public access to displays and resources, and will be better able to host public engagement events. With this in mind, and now that the London business property market is stabilising, we have been measuring lifts and inspecting properties, and we will keep reporting back. It might take a while as the sort of property we are looking for does not frequently come on the market, and we need to get it right.

We are also moving ahead with another of the strategic aims of the Society – to develop the Society as the point of contact for members on all matters pertaining to psychology. At the Trustees meeting in March we approved the development of a new Communication Centre, building upon our existing resources. It will facilitate not only our internal communications but work with the Policy Support Unit to enhance our relationship with the outside world, from public to Parliament, doing more to promote the development of psychological science and its dissemination into practice. In this regard, we continue to develop the regional offices, and will be appointing a new policy officer to support the already extensive input into the Scottish Parliament. I mentioned in my last column that the Representative Council will hold one of its meetings in Cardiff at the 2006 Annual Conference, and that we would support an event on psychological issues and needs in Wales.


I discussed this when I was invited to the St David’s Day celebrations at the Wales Office, meeting many Welsh MPs and members of the National Assembly for Wales, and I am sure that some will agree to contribute. Issues such as identity and coping with shifting patterns of work were raised. By way of entertainment, the Maesteg Gleemen Male Voice Choir was outstanding and spine-tingling.

As for our recent Annual Conference in Manchester, the diversity of the programme was impressive, and quality at all levels continues to strengthen. I was particularly pleased to see satellite events taking off, with, for example, the launch of the College of Fellows and the inaugural meeting on Psychology and Human Rights. The afternoon on human rights was very timely in view of the Society becoming more active in commenting on important social issues of the moment. Read on our website, for example, our declaration concerning torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments.

Finally, our new chief executive will be with us shortly. Tim Cornford has been General Manager of NFER Nelson, an organisation well known to many of you, and has worked for government agencies such as the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. Tim will introduce himself fully in due course, but as will be evident from even this brief description his experience in assessment, government, publishing and business should well support the Society’s growth. A warm welcome.

CORRECTION
In Ken Brown’s final ‘President’s column’ in March, Graham Powell was wrongly described as a ‘Chartered Clinical, Forensic and Occupational Psychologist’. This should have read ‘Chartered Clinical, Forensic and Health Psychologist, and a Practitioner Full Member of the Division of Neuropsychology’. 

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