Wendy Burn

Presentation address by Professor Trudie Roberts


During graduation we celebrate the achievements of our students, and acknowledge the support and inspiration provided to them by our academic colleagues in the University and the wider academic community. 

At Leeds, we have strong ties to the NHS. One of the great strengths of the NHS is the outstanding education and training delivered by its practitioners and researchers. Their enthusiasm, intellectual curiosity and rigour ensures that our students benefit from access to the latest ideas and technologies. It also means that from the very beginning of their programmes, students are exposed to real debate and real issues, thus in turn pushing forward the boundaries of knowledge and practice to benefit patients. 

One such inspirational colleague working within the NHS is Professor Wendy Burn, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Wendy became a consultant old age psychiatrist in 1990 and is a regional and national leader in dementia care.  She has been co-clinical Lead for dementia for the Yorkshire and the Humber Strategic Clinical Network, and has worked closely with the Alzheimer’s Society.  

From the very beginning of her consultancy, Wendy has been heavily involved in postgraduate training. Before being elected President last year, her roles with the Royal College have included senior organiser of clinical examinations, deputy convenor, regional co-ordinator for continuing professional development, deputy lead for national recruitment, and College Dean. 

Wendy also set up the Yorkshire School of Psychiatry, where she served as the first Head of School. In addition, Wendy co-chairs the Gatsby Wellcome Neuroscience Project. This is an exciting initiative aimed at transforming the core training curriculum for psychiatry trainees which will draw on consultation with a huge number of colleagues, patients and students and which will ensure that this vital area of NHS provision continues to offer world-leading services and care in an ever-changing world environment. 

We cannot yet know all of the challenges that will face the health service, higher education, and society as we move through the next 70 years of the NHS. What we can do is prepare to meet them with insight, energy, and compassion. It is through the example set by people like Wendy Burn that the next generation of professionals will achieve that.  

Chancellor, it is my great pleasure and privilege to present to you for the Degree of Doctor of Medicine, honoris causa, Wendy Burn.