President's column

Ray Miller writes.
There’s good news and bad news… The good news is that we now know the content of the government’s review of non-medical regulation (Foster Review, see News, p.516). Six months later than originally anticipated, the report was published on 14 July. The announcement came at short notice. I was in Cambridge, representing the Society at a joint European and UK psychotherapy congress. That provided a useful opportunity to hear how other affected professions were reacting and laid the foundation for collaborative working. Within 48 hours our own statutory regulation working group had met to consider the implications.
There’s good news and bad news…

The good news is that we now know the content of the government’s review of non-medical regulation (Foster Review, see News, p.516). Six months later than originally anticipated, the report was published on 14 July. The announcement came at short notice. I was in Cambridge, representing the Society at a joint European and UK psychotherapy congress. That provided a useful opportunity to hear how other affected professions were reacting and laid the foundation for collaborative working. Within 48 hours our own statutory regulation working group had met to consider the implications.

The bad news is that the report shows scant evidence of serious consideration having been given to the many suggestions and concerns raised by the Society and other professional bodies. The government had expressed some strong prior views about the direction of future policy. They seem little changed by the consultation; in particular, the view that the Health Professions Council (HPC) is the appropriate route for applied psychology and related professions.

One surprise was that the report opened a further period of public consultation: due to close on 10 November. Careful reading of the text appears to offer applied psychology two options – continue down the HPC route despite last year’s consultation result, or make further attempts to amend the government’s stance through the new consultation.

In 2005 members were clear that the HPC route on offer was seriously flawed. It did not guarantee the level of protection required to gain the confidence of either members or the public. Our stance is therefore based on the expectation that members will wish the Society to continue to use every opportunity to pursue more robust alternatives. Despite our continuing support for the principle of statutory regulation, that might include considering other choices. A new, statutory, multi-professional, regulatory council remains our ultimate, preferred goal (e.g. a General Psychological Council). Collaboration with allied professional groups will provide a more powerful basis for persuading government to review their dismissal of such proposals. These options do not preclude the Society itself making strong, constructive submissions to the consultation process. We will be prepared on several fronts.

A staff task group has been established at the Leicester office to review our action plan and work alongside other professional organisations in developing a joint strategic framework. Trustees and the Representative Council have been kept fully informed and key documents are published on our website for all members (www.bps.org.uk/statreg). As the process unfolds, there will be important roles in ensuring that essential messages reach both the public and legislators. Member opinion was a powerful element in our previous response. I will be writing to you in the near future to tell you how you can play your part again. Your views can also be expressed directly to the working group through Michael Carpenter, Membership and Qualifications Directorate Manager ([email protected]).

The integrated discipline and practice of psychology is fundamental to quality assurance and public protection. We must remain united as psychologists in ensuring that principle is upheld.

Back to good news, and I’m pleased to report that the Appointments Memorandum is nearly 30 years old. In those years this regular insert to The Psychologist has established itself as the main source for psychology jobs, both in the UK and overseas. As it is restricted to members only, employers know that readers are likely to be highly suitably qualified. For members it provides a useful single reference point in planning and developing career paths. Analysis of trends in the advertising has been the basis for a number of newsletter articles; mapping the successful growth and development of the profession.

An electronic version was launched in 2001 and proved to be a huge success. The paper version has also been substantially redesigned. Most recently a completely new electronic version was launched with additional features designed to make it easier to navigate and find the job you are seeking. This free service is yet another member benefit. I would urge you to have a look at the fresh, new format site at www.appmemo.co.uk.

Lastly, I feel I cannot ignore the fact that international news has been dominated this month by conflict in the Middle East and terror alerts in the UK. Ever since I read James Thompson’s book Psychological Aspects of Nuclear War (BPS, 1985), it has seemed self-evident that psychology has a role to play in both highlighting and alleviating the physical and mental suffering inherent in human conflict. Unfortunately a Psychology and Human Rights conference had to be cancelled last year owing to insufficient registrations – maybe it is time to try again?

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