It’s boom time for the College

This year’s International Congress of the Royal College of Psychiatrists is scheduled to take place in Edinburgh in June:

The Congress team provide this summary: “Over the four days of the Congress, you will as ever, have the opportunity to attend lectures from up to 17 world renowned keynote speakers and choose from over 70 cutting edge sessions.”

The Congress programme is wide-ranging: “It will feature the best of international academic psychiatry, those with lived experience, families and opinion leaders in mental health from the social and political sphere.”

In this post, the extensive marketing opportunities for the College are shared alongside competing financial interests of some of the speakers. It is not possible to be accurate about such competing financial interests as the UK has no Sunshine legislation. The Royal College of Psychiatrists has consistently failed to support the introduction of Sunshine legislation.

The International Congress has generated, year after year, ‘large net surpluses’ for the Royal College of Psychiatrists, as shared in their Annual Reports.

This was the ‘net Surplus’ for the 2018 International Congress:

The 2021 International Congress offers a wide range of speakers:

The College has not made available: a single, searchable register of declarations of competing financial interests for all speakers – and all those involved with – the 2022 International Congress.

In 2016, Vanessa Cameron, who was the [then] CEO of the Royal College of Psychiatrists stated this in the Psychiatric Bulletin:

What follows is an incomplete account of the competing interests of some of those who will give educational talks at the 2022 Congress [please note all details come from declarations made in peer-reviewed journal publications and cover a range of years and not just the last 3 years].

Professor Oliver Howes  is the current Chair of the Psychopharmacology Committee of the Royal College of Psychiatrists . Last year I shared an appraisal of this committee in terms of transparency in relation to competing interests. I shared this appraisal with the College but had no reply.

Much of a decade has now passed since the [then] CEO of the Royal College of Psychiatrists stated that the College had “an appropriately puritanical relationship with Pharma”. I am sorry to conclude that this reassurance is nonsense. The College has however repeatedly stated that it considers its approach to competing financial interests as “sufficiently robust”. But without full transparency how can we be sure that this is not further false reassurance?

When it comes to the College, what then can we be sure of? Well, that at least, is more straightforward: it’s boom time!

Footnote: This is an unedited clip of a contribution made by Professor Michael Sharpe, Professor of Psychological Medicine at the University of Oxford. The Event marked the 50th Anniversary of the Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford. [To access film please click on the image/graphic below]

At this afternoon session Professor Michael Sharpe said: “. . . we live in the greatest of times . . . Mental Health is the rage. This is BOOM time! We have a PRODUCT that is selling like hotcakes everywhere. How are we going to make enough PRODUCT?” [Capitalization is mine, but as I heard it] This statement by Professor Michael Sharpe was followed by laughter from the audience. This was not an RCPsych event.

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