Progress on transparency: Royal College of Psychiatrists

It is most welcome to be able to report that the Royal College of Psychiatrists have been considering my recent feedback, as a College member, on its governance of “relationships with pharmaceutical and other commercial organisations“.The College have now made publicly available the declarations of interest from the  Faculty of Old Age Psychiatry Annual Scientific Meeting held in Glasgow in March 2015. These can be accessed here (they are included in the “Final Programme“)Old Age March 2015 RCPsychI also understand from the President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists that they “will have an e-system in place by the next international congress” and that all of those on the Organising Committee will add any declarations of interest to their committee biographies.Forefront 2015I want to thank Professor Sir Simon Wessely who has been most helpful and taken time out of his busy schedule to communicate with me personally and has promised to keep me updated on the progress of the College in revising its guidance CR148. I very much admire and appreciate that our current College President listens carefully, engages widely and responds personally when he can. I should say that I have not had similar experience before.

One final point. The Royal College has admitted that “we were at fault for not being ahead of the game”. I am not sure this is entirely the best summary of where the College were before my recent communications on transparency of financial interests. I say this as the College published its guidance on this matter exactly seven years ago now. CR148 is very clear on what it expects in terms of “good psychiatric practice” and “relationships with pharmaceutical and other commercial organisations”. The research involved for my petition to the Scottish Government for a Sunshine Act has revealed that the Royal College of Psychiatrists is far from alone in having failed over many years in the governance of existing guidance in this area.

It may be that similar experience of failings in governance of transparency, across a number of organisations, was instrumental in the decision for the USA and France to introduce a Sunshine Act.

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