Dr David Fearnley has been named Psychiatrist of the Year in the first annual Royal College of Psychiatrists Awards. David is a consultant psychiatrist at Ashworth Hospital in Maghull, where he has championed innovative ways of care and treatment including a Get Into Reading group for patients, which he runs himself.
He also has a wider role as Medical Director and Deputy Chief Executive of Mersey Care NHS Trust, the specialist mental health trust for adults in Liverpool, Sefton and Kirkby. The Trust has around 10,000 people who use its services at any one time, most of them living and supported in the community.
David did his postgraduate studies in psychiatry in South Wales and moved to Merseyside in 1998 to train as a forensic psychiatrist before being appointed as consultant forensic psychiatrist at Ashworth in 2001. In August 2005 he was appointed medical director and deputy chief executive in 2007. He says:
I enjoy the challenge of management as well as my role as a clinician. I work closely with service users to improve our services and as part of a process which helps keep me focused on the right approach to take I involve service users and carers in my annual consultant appraisal.
David received his award at a prestigious ceremony at the Royal Society of Medicine in London, hosted by journalist and broadcaster Libby Purves, of The Times and Radio 4. He was nominated by Catherine Mills, Chair of the Service User and Carer Forum at Mersey Care, which represents the views of people who use mental health services.
Entrants for the award had to demonstrate they had made a positive impact at a national or local level to service user and carers’ wellbeing. They also had to show how they had improved the perception of mental health issues, encouraged change in the development of mental health policy, and been an accessible role model to the general public. David says:
I am delighted to be the first winner of this award. It is also recognition of some of the pioneering work we are doing here in Merseyside with in-patients and community-based service users. I am particularly proud of the success of our network of 27 therapeutic reading groups which we run in partnership with The Reader Organisation across all our services.