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Chief Executive

Why we need a Chief Psychological Professions Officer

31 July 2019 | by Chief Executive

Whether you work in the NHS or not, we all share an interest and have a stake in the future of our health service.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that there is a growing demand in society for better access to psychological therapies, and in fact, increasing access to these services will be vital if we’re to realise the ambitions set out in the Long Term Plan; the blueprint for the future of the NHS.

The plan sets out a welcome ambition to expand access to psychological treatments more rapidly than we’ve ever seen before. If delivered, this expansion offers the opportunity to move towards parity of esteem – for mental health to be viewed in the same light, and given the same resources, as physical health.

This will require a concerted effort from everyone working in and for the NHS, by the BPS as an organisation representing the workforce and at every level of government.

While we are keen to play our part, we also recognise that there needs to be a stronger link between organisations like the BPS and those making the policy decisions about the future of the psychological workforce.

Unlike other professions such as medicine, nursing and the allied health professions, currently there’s no lead within the NHS for the psychological professions.

That’s why we’re joining together with other professional bodies to call for the creation of a Chief Psychological Professions Officer within NHS England. Establishing this post would help to ensure that psychological approaches to healthcare are ‘hardwired’ into the NHS architecture at all levels – national, regional and local.

The landscape for the psychological professions is changing, with a number of new roles emerging to try and deal with the shortage of psychologists in the health service, and change the way that services are offered.

We need to make sure that we evolve alongside the workforce which we represent, and provide a space for those who enter the psychological professions in one of the new roles.

We’ll be looking at our offer to people in these roles as they emerge, including a review of our membership grades as part of the Society’s ongoing change programme.

I enjoyed updating members on the progress of the programme at our AGM recently, where we also outlined some of our key achievements from 2018.

As part of the Society’s ongoing digital transformation, we’ve published our Review of the Year in a new, interactive format along with an animation. This details a number of our key pieces of work from 2018, across workforce, education, policy and a number of our other priority areas.

The AGM saw the transition from Professor Kate Bullen to David Murphy as our President. I’m excited to see what focus David brings to the role, and want to thank Kate for her fine work in promoting the value of psychology as a higher education subject.

Professor Hazel McLaughlin was elected as our President for next year, and Roxane Gervais joins as our Honorary Treasurer.

I’m looking forward to working alongside David, Hazel and Roxane as your elected representatives – I think that we need to be an organisation which is far more democratic and guided by the choices our members make.

We introduced BPS Senate last year to help us do this, and have added an all-member vote to the process. This is now open, and we want you to help us decide on the final shortlist of three campaigning priorities.

One of these will be taken forward as our priority for 2020, and I urge you to take the opportunity to vote and help shape the direction of your Society.

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