Following the publication of the NHS Improvement (2019) paper about extending the clinical leadership at NHS Trust Board level the Psychological Professions Network England has published a Discussion paper about the rationale and legal position with regard to members of the Psychological Professions taking up such roles in Mental Health Trusts. The paper has been through extensive discussions across the psychological professions and is intended to promote more widespread discussion amongst the psychological professions, and with leaders and managers within Trusts, and within national NHS bodies.
When the paper was discussed with Experts by Experience there was some genuine surprise that the Psychological Professions weren’t in Board level positions given the importance of psychological assessment and interventions and the need to create a compassionate culture within the NHS. The significant role that the psychological professions have played in designing and providing support to staff during Covid has reinforced this view. The NHS is facing significant challenges and discussion of this issue is intended to help Trusts assess how having a wider professional leadership at the heart of the organisation could help tackle these.
The benefits of including psychological professions in the most senior leadership team in Mental Health Trusts are described. These include how this would help:
The main perceived obstacles including legal, professional parity and alternative representation arrangements, are presented, and addressed.
The Discussion paper will hopefully provide information to enable a more fully informed discussion both within the psychological professions and with senior managers and leaders in NHS Mental Health Trusts, and in national NHS bodies. We would urge that space is found to discuss this leadership issue as part of the process of transforming our services to become more psychologically skilled and informed.