Dr Adrian James

NHSE appoints first medical director for mental health & neurodiversity

NHS England (NHSE) has appointed the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ former president, Dr Adrian James, as its first medical director for mental health and neurodiversity.

Adrian’s new role will centre around transforming services for those with:

  • Mental health needs
  • Autism
  • Learning disabilities
  • Neurodiversity

He was president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists from 2020 and 2023, leading the organisation through the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic and ultimately overseeing quality improvement initiatives for workforce wellbeing and equality, diversity and inclusion.

“I am delighted to be joining the leadership team at NHS England,” said Adrian.

“Much has been achieved in the world of mental health and neurodiversity and I am looking forward to working with the medical directorate”.

Adrian led the evidence collection during the pandemic on the risks of Covid-19 for those with serious mental illness or learning disabilities, subsequently helping secure vaccine priority for those people.

Overall, he wanted to achieve a parity of esteem and have mental health considered on equal footing with physical health.

Adrian is currently a board member of the NHS Race and Health Observatory, a member of the NHS Assembly, and was the first medical director of Devon Partnership NHS Trust.

NHSE’s national medical director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, said: “This is the first role of its kind in NHS England and demonstrates our ongoing commitment both to strong clinical leadership in general, and specifically within mental health and neurodiversity.”

NHSE’s national mental health director, Claire Murdoch, added: “I was thrilled to join Professor Powis in appointing Adrian, who will be a first-class clinical leader across our important programmes and a really impressive addition to the medical leadership at NHSE.”

Image credit: Royal College of Psychiatrists

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NHE May/June 2024

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