Observations BMJ Confidential

Sue Bailey: Thoughtful, determined, and kind?

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g1451 (Published 11 February 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g1451

In the latest in its series asking the movers and shakers of the medical world about work, life, and less serious matters, the BMJ spoke to the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists


Sue Bailey, a child forensic psychiatrist in northwest England, has been president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists since 2011. She works with young people who have committed crimes or are at risk of doing so, many of whom are themselves victims of violence and abuse. She also lobbies for the rights of those with mental illness, and in 2012 she helped to persuade the government to acknowledge that mental illness should have parity with physical illness.

What was your earliest ambition?

As a teenager I chose arts subjects and intended to read history and politics at university. But a chance visit from a neighbour, who was then the medical superintendent of the local county asylum, opened up my eyes to the world of psychiatry, mental illness, and the possibility to change the lives of people who are mentally ill.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

I was born in Manchester so my childhood was surrounded by the history of the trade unions, the suffragettes, and in particular Vera Brittain. Later on I was inspired …

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