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2022 9th June, South West London MHT, Cassel Hospital

SKELLERN LECTURE, Dr Gary Winship -  The Modern Mental Health Nurse, Where Now for Skellern’s Vision?

Introduced by Russell Ashmore 

Lecture Synopsis: How does Skellern’s vision of a modern mental health nurse - dynamically informed, democratically committed and compassionately focused – bear scrutiny today? Arguably, there is much to esteem, for example the on-going influence of the Cassel Hospital (where Eileen Skellern began her journey), or perhaps the psychoanalytically informed Halliwick Day Hospital that Marion Janner described as the model for her first iteration of Star Wards.

The front-line psychodynamic work of nurses like Anne Aiyebusi, Marcus Evans, Celeste Foster also highlight the psychodynamic legacy of Skellern.  Skellern’s influence is arguably felt in the emancipatory practices of Recovery Colleges (Julie Repper being a direct descendant of Skellern at the Maudsley), and in the fact the first professor of democratic mental health in the UK is a MHN (Mick Mckeown). This lecture will offer a brief route map to Skellern’s Therapeutic Community journey, starting at the Cassel Hospital through to her work at the Henderson (where Maxwell Jones dedicated his 1968 landmark book Social Psychiatry, “to the work of Eileen Skellern and the other nurses at the Henderson”). Finally, reflecting on Skellern’s leadership in establishing the Charles Hood Therapeutic Community at Bethlem in the late 1970s, where we can see the culmination of her vision for MHN practice. The critical question going forward is how can Skellern’s Modern Mental Health Nurse be consolidated and advanced?  This lecture will propose an ideological tripod for re-envisioning the modern MHN comprising of core attributes tallied to, i) renewed communitarian practices, democratic and psychosocially informed, ii) interpersonal skills honed for navigating sustained therapeutic intimacy with people in distress, iii) co-operative participatory cycles of privileging service user voice through qualitative research.  I will point to examples of dynamic relational education that can enhance the process of learning the art and craft of how to be alongside people who are hurting, and finally I will set out the groundwork processes of supervision and personal development that continue at the heart of my own practice as a MHN.  


Introduced by Eimear Muir-Cochrane

Professor Kevin Gournay, CBE RN PhD CPsychol CSci FRCN FMedSci FRSM AFBPsS Cert CBT. Emeritus Professor of Psychiatric Nursing, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience: King’s College: London. Honorary Professor: Faculty of Medicine and Health: University of Sydney


Kevin Gournay’s career has spanned more than 50 years. Following combined training as a Nurse in Learning Disabilities and Mental Health; periods as a nurse teacher, in adult nursing and as a Charge Nurse in a therapeutic community ward, he completed an 18-month full time training as a Nurse Therapist at the Maudsley Hospital in 1978. This proved to be a turning point in his life. Since that time, he has continued, either full-time or part-time, to work in clinical practice, providing CBT. In the 14 years that followed his training at the Maudsley, he worked as a Nurse Therapist in the NHS, completed his Masters, PhD and post-doctoral education (all part time). He won a grant to conduct (with the late Julia Brooking) an RCT of CPN effectiveness and an epidemiological study of body dysmorphic disorder; this being followed by an RCT of treatment that led to the treatment model used today. In this time, his other experiences included using his CBT skills in palliative care settings and with women who had experienced stillbirth, or perinatal death (this following personal experience).  He also became involved in the setting up of 2 national charities (one for cancer care, one for anxiety). In 1992 he was recruited from the NHS, by Professor June Clark (then President of the Royal College of Nursing), and became a Professor of Mental Health at Middlesex University. In this post he developed a Masters programme in mental health interventions and co-led a number of research projects. During this period, he began to expand activities to Europe, the USA and Australia, and continued with the international development work in which he had become involved in the late 1980’s in Eastern Europe. In 1995, Kevin was appointed as the first Professor of Psychiatric Nursing at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London; a post he held until 2006. During his time there, he served for 2 years as Chair of Institute’s Academic Board, won funding for MRC doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships, a number of research studies, developed innovative training in dual diagnosis and medication management and had an oversight role of several other training programmes. He was involved in national policy development in prison mental health, high secure settings and specialist personality disorder services. He also served as a specialist advisor to the UK joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, as well as providing advice to ministers and the CNO. He worked on a trans-European practice development project (funded by the EC in 14 countries) that focussed on the empowerment of service users. Kevin also worked as a consultant to WHO on international development projects in Russia and other countries and until 2013, on a project in Palestine, aimed at developing mental health services in the West Bank and Gaza.  Since retiring from his post in 2006, Kevin has continued to work in clinical settings in a tertiary service for people with OCD and complex PTSD (recently much of his work has involved Military personnel). He has also continued his collaboration with colleagues in Australia, including assisting with the setting up of a Centre for Comorbidity (originally at the University of New South Wales and now at the University of Sydney) where he holds a Professorial position. For the past 20 years he has worked as an expert witness in the UK and Republic of Ireland in cases involving suicide, homicide, human rights issues, and detention under the Mental Health Act in medium and high secure services.  He is also President of No Panic, a national anxiety disorders Charity that he assisted in founding 30 years ago.  He is the author or co-editor of 17 books and monographs (including one book published in the Welsh language), 56 chapters in books, 16 reports and literature reviews, 120 articles in peer reviewed journals and numerous articles in magazines, including book reviews and comment pieces. He continues to serve as a reviewer for several funding bodies. Kevin was appointed CBE in the New Year’s Honours in 1999 for his services to psychiatric nursing, research and education. He is Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing and holds a number of other fellowships, honorary fellowships and honorary degrees. In 2004, he was elected as Psychiatric Nurse of the Year by the American Psychiatric Nurses’ Association.  Synopsis address: Lessons learned, things I got wrong and things I got right – and much more in between.  The introduction to the talk will mention the many who have provided inspiration, advice, support and encouragement in times when it was needed most and invaluable practical assistance on many more occasions.   There are four individuals who will receive particular mention, Professor Isaac Marks, Eileen Skellern (RIP), Dr Jim Birley (RIP) and Professor Sir David Goldberg. I will explain why I have chosen each of these individuals. It may be asked – why is there only one nurse among these four individuals? I will set out my reasons; saying that the three “non-nurses” mentioned, provided not only enormous support and influence to me personally, but more so to our profession of mental health nursing in particular.  The talk will then focus on four particular areas and draw from personal experiences and publications over the past 40 years, to address the matters identified in the title of the talk.  The topics are as follows:  Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) as a panacea, The randomised controlled trial (RCT) as a gold standard, Debates and Controversies in Mental Health Nursing – “Some things I stand by; some I got wrong and on some topics….I’ll say no more at present”. Where have we been and Where are we going?


Evening Chair: Dr Miriam Barrett, In-patient lead, Cassel Hospital.  Welcome address: Ms Stephanie Bridger, Director of Nursing & Patient Experience, West London NHS Trust. Cassel Hospital Co-Production Award presented by Stephanie Bridger

Opening slide.jpg


5.30 Guests arrive

5.45pm Evening Chair: Dr Miriam Barrett, In-patient lead, Cassel Hospital

Welcome address: Ms Stephanie Bridger, Director of Nursing & Patient Experience, West London NHS Trust 

6.00pm Cassel Hospital Co-Production Award presented by Stephanie Bridger

6.10pmAward of commemorative plaque for 2020 to Dr Russell Ashmore by Professor Mick Mckeown    

6.15pm Introduction: Dr Russell Ashmore, SHU 

6.25pm SKELLERN LECTURE: Dr Gary Winship

7.15 Plaque presentation: Ms Carolyn Reagan, CEO, West London NHS Trust  

7.20 Refreshment Break  

8.10 plaque presentation to 2020 JPMHN Lifetime Achievement recipient, Professor Eimear Muir Cochrane - Flinders University, Adelaide

8.15 Introduction to Lifetime achievement Award:

Professor Eimear Muir Cochrane, Flinders University, Adelaide

8.25pm LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: Professor Kevin Gournay

9.15pm Plaque presentation: Professor Eimear Muir Cochrane

9.20pm Vote of Thanks: Dr Miriam Barrett

9.30 Close


Before he introduced the 2022 Skellern Lecture, Dr Russell received his commemorative plaque for 2020 Skellern Lecture, presented by Professor Mick Mckeown    


Before introducing Kevin Gournay, Professor Eimear Muir-Cochrane received her commemorative plaque for 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award    

Professor Kevin Gournay received his commemorative plaque from Jerome Carson. 

Miriam Barret & Sarah Rae, proposed a vote of thanks 


Skellern: Celeste Foster, Judith Graham, Anthony O'Brien,Gary Winship

JPMHN Lifetime Award: Kevin Gournay, Brenda Happell, Steve Jamieson

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