Society

Including the BPS President's column and events diary.

By the time you read this column considerable work will have been done preparing the Society’s response to the government consultation on the legislation for the statutory regulation of psychology.

By the time you read this column considerable work will have been done preparing the Society’s response to the government consultation on the legislation for the statutory regulation of psychology.
The Department of Health published the consultation just before the winter break (we had initially been told it would be published mid-October). The consultation will run for 12 weeks up to 22 March, after which the Department of Health will consider the responses. Officials have indicated that they expect the legislation to be laid before Parliament in late April or early May this year.
The Society will submit a single official response to the consultation. One of the main problems throughout this exercise has been a lack of understanding about
the breadth and complex nature of what psychologists do. Asimov wrote ‘it pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety’; submitting one response will allow the Society as the representative body for British psychology to provide one very clear and unambiguous message. However, it is also important that you, the members, have the opportunity to contribute. Not an easy task with over 45,000 members! We’ve done this by engaging the various committees and boards that represent your interests. You can see the process of the preparation of the response on the members’ part of the website (www.bps.org.uk/draftresponses). Once the final legislation is laid we will be able to judge any further action we should take, and we will keep you updated on this.
We hope government will listen to and act on our continued concerns about the need to ensure proper public protection that is at least as good as the current voluntary system. We have been reassured that some of our concerns are addressed in the proposed legislation. For example, there is recognition that most researchers and academics do not need to be regulated and that scientific research should not be impeded by legislation. We hope this commitment will be properly reflected in a clear statement that this will not affect psychologists’ ability to conduct research within public bodies. We have also been given assurances that course accreditation will only be at the postgraduate level, that undergraduate programmes are not within the remit of the statutory regulator and that the Graduate Basis for Registration will continue to be a prerequisite for postgraduate practitioner training; again we hope this is clearly and unambiguously embedded in the final order laid before Parliament.
Throughout the process we have continued to liaise with our partners and sister organisations and to communicate closely with members of both houses of Parliament and with the Scottish Parliament. Ben Bradshaw, Minister of State at the Department
of Health, has invited me to meet with him to discuss our remaining concerns, and by the time you read this that meeting should have taken place. I will report more about it in the President’s briefing (www.bps.org.uk/presbrief).

I am always delighted when members take the time to write to me. As well as responding directly to individual e-mails and letters, questions about statutory regulation are added to the list of frequently asked questions at www.bps.org.uk/statreg. A number of members have asked how statutory regulation will affect them individually. Statutory regulation will not affect you unless you wish to practise as a psychologist offering services to the public, in which case you would need to be on the proposed regulator’s (the HPC) register. If you are already a member of the Society’s Register of Chartered Psychologists (with a current practising certificate as a clinical, counselling, educational, forensic, health, occupational or sport and exercise psychologist) at the point when the HPC opens its register you will automatically be eligible to join that register. If you are not already on the Society’s Register of Chartered Psychologists with a practising certificate and an adjectival title in one of the areas to be regulated, you will have to apply to the HPC via a process called grandparenting. This is relatively expensive compared to our own costs, and in December I wrote to all graduate, chartered and recently lapsed members about opportunities to become chartered now in order to expedite entry onto any statutory register. We have heard from over a thousand of you so far and the office has deployed extra staff to deal with these queries (see www.bps.org.uk/ getcharter).
It’s important to remember that although a lot of work is being done on statutory regulation, the Society will remain the professional body responsible for developing and supporting the discipline of psychology and disseminating psychological knowledge to the public and policy makers. We will still publish journals and books, and  run conferences and events. As can be seen in this second issue of the new-look Psychologist, the Society delivers and engages with a wide range of activities and has many new ones planned – the Trustees discussed these at an awayday in December. The Society will retain all of these, except those associated with assessing the fitness to practise of regulated psychologists. We will continue to further the discipline, science and practice of psychology, offer services to psychologists to develop their competencies and careers, and provide scientific and professional networks.
So statutory regulation is a good thing – of course if it is done properly it will provide public protection that is legally binding. However, it also offers us all new opportunities in that it will free up the Society to focus more on the things embedded in its object the dissemination and of psychology pure and applied –
As William James wrote, ‘He (sic) who refuses to embrace a unique opportunity loses the prize as if he had failed.’

Lifetime Achievement Award 2007
Professor Joan Freeman

Professor Joan Freeman has accepted the Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award for 2007 to be presented at the 2008 Annual Conference.Professor Freeman’s work in the development of gifts and talents in children spans more than 30 years. She has conducted and supervised the study of gifted children since 1974, focusing primarily on the development of human abilities to their highest levels.
This area of psychology had been somewhat undervalued, but Professor Freeman’s energy has ensured its place in the mainstream agenda of education and research. She was previously an adviser on education for the gifted and talented and continues to provide advice to the United Kingdom government alongside her role as a primary witness to the standing committee for the education of these children. Professor Freeman was also commissioned to write two international reports on the topic for the UK government.
Professor Freeman is Founding President of the European Council for High Ability, which is now a highly respected Council of Europe Non-Governmental Organisation. She was Editor in Chief of High Ability Studies, the Council journal, for two years.
Professor Freeman has published 16 books. Her first book Human Biology and Hygiene became a popular educational text and was a school standard for 21 years. She was also commissioned by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation to write a book on high-level education.
She has a strong presence in both print and broadcast media having written a regular column in London’s Evening Standard regarding child development and commenting on psychological issues to numerous newspapers and TV companies. Professor Freeman has also featured in three major television programmes about gifted children, including an ongoing study of 10 gifted children – Child Genius.
In 2006 Professor Freeman founded the Tower Education Group, which presented its first paper on international cooperation this year.
The Society has also benefited from Professor Freeman’s expertise. She is a Fellow of the Society and has held a variety of positions within, including Chair of the North of England Branch and was a member of the Representative Council for seven years.
Professor Freeman has been a visiting professor at Middlesex University since 1995 and has taught the psychology of gifts and talents around the world. Her expertise in this underrepresented area has been highly sought-after at many institutions, she has been a visiting professor at the Universities of Alberta, Canada and Columbia, USA, Visiting Scholar at Yale, and Rockefeller Scholar in Italy. She is also respected as an authoritative speaker and has been invited to give presentations to universities, education authorities, schools and conferences in the Americas, Far East, Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
Diane Montgomery, Emeritus Professor of Education, Middlesex University, London, a colleague of Professor Freeman, commented: ‘Professor Freeman is well known and respected as being among the leading figures in Europe and the rest of the world. She has had a positive influence worldwide in research and teaching of the gifted and talented. Her achievements have been particularly impressive as an individual psychologist working without the backing of a university or other institution.’

New president elect

At a Special General Meeting held it the University of Greenwich on 7 December 2007, the result of the postal ballot for the election of the Society’s President was declared. Sue Gardner will serve as President Elect in 2008/9 and as President in 2009/10.
At the same meeting a resolution was passed to add a paragraph to the Society’s Royal Charter to define the word ‘charitable’ such that the Charter would be compliant with legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Best interests
Theresa Joyce looks at guidance on determining the best interests of adults who lack the capacity to make a decision (or decisions) for themselves [England and Wales]

The Society has just published guidance to assist decision makers, and other involved parties, in how to make ‘best interest’ decisions according to the statutory process defined under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The guidance was funded by the Department of Health as part of the programme to develop materials supporting the implementation of the Act. The decision-making process is complex, and the guidance addresses such issues as who is the decision maker, what to do if the situation is urgent, how to differentiate between advance decisions and previously expressed wishes, who has to be consulted, which decisions can and cannot be made under the Act, and how to manage the statutory process in an accountable way in a best interests meeting.

Psychologists are often asked to participate in, or lead, a best interests meeting. Whilst it is clearly important that those with capacity are supported to make decisions for themselves  – and essential that assessment of capacity is carried out to a high standard – most of the Act is concerned with how we should proceed when it has been determined that an individual cannot make a decision for themselves.
The aims and objectives of this guidance are as follows:

- to raise awareness of the different ways in which people can make decisions on behalf of those who lack capacity and how these are relevant to the Mental Capacity Act 2005;
- to enable those working with individuals who lack capacity to increase their understanding of what is meant by best interests;
- to enable people who are required to make judgments about best interests, or who are required to participate in best interests meetings, to do this in a structured way. This is in order to ensure that decision makers consider and weigh all relevant factors in making decisions that are in the best interests of the adult who lacks capacity; to provide chairs of best interests meetings with additional guidance on
the process, content and structure of best interests meetings.
 
The statutory process is laid out in s4 of the Act. The guidance expands on this ‘statutory checklist’, and considers the complexity of such decision-making in practice. There are four sections: Approaches to making decisions for others; How have the courts have decided on best interests?; Best interests meetings; and Working through the statutory checklist. The last section goes through a number of best interests decisions in detail, illustrated by case studies.
Although published by the Society, the guidance is written for all those who may be required to participate in best interests decision making.
The guidance can be downloaded free from www.bps.org.uk/437y

Consultations on public policy

Responses to five consultations were submitted in December, including one to a supplementary consultation from Sheffield University following November’s ‘Do Once and Share Project on Pain Assessment’, and one from the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) on preventing the uptake of smoking by children.

Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) The Society was extremely concerned about the proposals in the consultation from HEFCE to withdraw funding for students who are studying for a qualification that is equivalent to, or lower than, a qualification that
they have already been awarded. It was felt that this would significantly impact on the provision of psychology training in a number of areas, particularly due to the popularity of the subject and the fact that it attracts a higher than average number of late returners to study. The Society was further concerned that that the differential impact on part-time students would act in a discriminatory fashion with regard to women and mature students.

Carol Black’s Review of the Health of Britain’s Working Age Population (commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions) Following this consultation (reported on in the January issue), Carol Black developed a Consensus Statement which stressed the key importance of the relationship between health and work. While broadly supporting the Statement, the Society was initially unable to endorse certain assumptions and values implied within it – in particular, that the evaluation of health interventions should normally be employment status and that employers should be responsible for the prevention of ill health in general, as opposed to work-related ill health. The Society was also concerned that the statement should include reference to the need for health discrimination to be avoided. Suggestions were made for amendments to address these issues, and after a revision of the text, the Society agreed to endorse the Statement.

Skills for Health ‘Enhancing Quality in Partnership Healthcare Education – QA Framework (EQuIP) This consultation proposed a new framework within which Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) in England will quality assure the education that they commission. The Society’s main concern focused on the lack of consideration regarding the interface between EQuIP and other quality-assurance processes that apply to healthcare education, e.g. those operated by statutory bodies, professional bodies and universities themselves. The Society emphasised that the proposals appear to add an additional layer of QA activity, rather than streamlining the process.

The preparation and submission of the Society’s responses to consultations on public policy is coordinated by the Policy Support Unit (PSU). All members are eligible to contribute to responses and all interest is warmly welcomed. Please contact the PSU for further information ([email protected]; 0116 252 9926/9577). Details of active and completed consultations are available at: www.bps.org.uk/consult.

Events diary
For a database of forthcoming events organised by the Society and other organisations, see www.bps.org.uk/diary.
To advertise your event, contact [email protected]
or +44 116 252 9552.

Deaths
Dr Clifford James Hemming, a long-standing member and Fellow of the Society, died on Christmas Day 2007 aged 98.

 

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