This photograph is of a corridor that led out to a courtyard in the old hospital that I trained in. That hospital was Royal Cornhill in Aberdeen. I used to like sitting in the courtyard with patients and staff at break time.
I was one of the last doctors to train in the old hospital (now mostly demolished) and my memories are generally fond. The grounds were beautiful and inside it had a most lovely ‘floral corridor’. The hauntingly beautiful album “EXIT music” always reminds me of Royal Cornhill Hospital and its ‘country companion’ Kingseat Hospital where I was the very last doctor to leave (exit).
Dr John Crichton is the current Chair of RCPsych Scotland and he has been a wonderful champion of taking effective measures to tackle serious violence and has advocated providing greater support to young people. Dr Crichton has also been a lead in addressing knife crime: such as the ’rounded knives save lives’ campaign. I do not personally know Dr Crichton but have spoken to him once on the phone (he has lovely intonation) and we have exchanged e-mails. I am aware that he shares my interest in the history of medicine.
Dr Crichton has recently returned from giving advice to the Serious Violence Summit held at No 10 Downing Street. I hope that this summit gave due consideration to the potential for antidepressants to cause akathisia and seriously alter behaviour including suicide and homicide.
In late October of last year I spoke with Dr Crichton on the phone. During this conversation I asked Dr Crichton:
(1) if the College in Scotland supports sunshine legislation?
(2) if the College recognised the potential scale of prescribed harm?
(3) if, as Vice-President, he thought the online behaviour of some members of RCPsych was acceptable?
Dr Crichton carefully avoided answering these questions but said that he recognised a “wee shift” of College view on antidepressants and prescribed harm. Given this, I asked Dr Crichton if he might share ‘Room under the umbrella‘. He later replied that he hadn’t because “the debate is highly charged and I am cautious” but that he would “speak about all of these matters” when he next met the President of the College.
Some weeks later I was asked to meet up with the Associate Medical Director of NHS Lothian (my employers). I was advised that Dr Crichton “had been in touch”. Uncertain what this was about, I felt it was reasonable to ask Dr Crichton for some clarification. Dr Crichton replied by e-mail
“I was concerned about your health . . . I hope you are getting the right support.”
I have to take Dr Crichton’s concerns at face value but I find myself wondering if my open questions in relation to College ethics and patient safety were also a factor here?
Here are two heavily redacted communications from RCPsych Scotland (obtained as part of an FOI request):
Dr Crichton, as Chair of RCPsych Scotland, has expressed concerns about an increasing number of doctors deciding to retire early and the loss of experience this brings to the NHS. I myself am now in my fifties. I am hearing ‘EXIT music’.