Forensic mental health services are not widely available in many parts of the world. We have trainees, Consultants and other staff who are currently working or have worked with existing or developing services in Kurdistan/Northern Iraq, Zambia, Sudan and Barbuda. Trainees can become involved with this work. This can be done remotely, using services such as Skype to mentor and work with overseas doctors and other professionals, and also directly, on the ground in host countries. Time spent working in other countries usually involves an extension to training (an OOPE).
We are fortunate to be able to offer a dedicated forensic psychotherapy supervision group convened by Dr Stan Ruszczynski, one of the country’s leading forensic psychotherapists, based at the Portman Clinic in London. The group meets monthly in Nottingham and is open to all of our trainees. Few other forensic training schemes are able to offer such a specialised and valuable forensic psychotherapy opportunity. Trainees can discuss any psychodynamic issues within the group, and bring specific cases for discussion.
Many forensic psychiatrists maintain active research interests. A common problem is that data has been collected but resources are not available to analyse it at present. This provides a great opportunity for trainees to undertake research, under expert supervision, of clearly defined data “off the shelf”. Dr Mike Ferriter is the forensic research lead within Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust. Birgit Vollm, Clinical Associate Professor and Reader in Forensic Psychiatry at Nottingham University, also supervises trainees involved in research.Every trainee has a session (i.e. a half day) every week dedicated to research. Many trainees use this to gain a Masters Degree, often in Mental Health Law of the Legal Aspects of Medical Practice. These LLM degrees really stand out on a CV and help when the time comes for Consultant job interviews. The vast majority of our trainees work towards publications in peer-reviewed journals, and achieve at least one or two of these over the three years of training. Of course, expert support is available.
Special Interest Sessions
Every trainee has a session (i.e. a half day) every week dedicated to pursuit of a “Special Interest”. Many trainees spend time with related services, such as drug and alcohol or learning disability services. Prison experience is also popular. HMP Nottingham, HMP Gartree and many other prisons are popular placements for our trainees and offer a huge range of psychopathology. Experienced Consultant Forensic Psychiatrists supervise these sessions.
Teaching in the UK
Forensic psychiatrists have wide experience of some of the more pronounced aspects of psychopathology, particularly in the areas of psychosis and bipolar affective disorder. We work closely with Nottingham University and other institutions to share our knowledge and experience.Our trainees often undertake postgraduate study and gain Postgraduate Certificates in Education or Masters Degrees in Medical Education. They often dedicate their special interest sessions towards this study.
As well as hosting visits from interested students and doctors, our trainees get out and about as well. Many of the national institutions we work with are in London and some of our trainees visited the Ministry of Justice, Scotland Yard and The Central Criminal Court (The Old Bailey) in 2013.
During my ST4 year I was placed in the Male Mental Illness directorate at Rampton High Secure Hospital. Throughout the year I used some of my special interest time to gain experience of working with the National High Secure Women’s Service, regularly attending the multidisciplinary team meetings. I was also able to gain experience of working with the National Deaf Service, DSPD service, Personality Disorder directorate and Learning Disability directorate. I was able to contribute to the assessment of patients referred to the various directorates at Rampton Hospital.
I used the remainder of my special interest time for research and audit, most notably I undertook a service evaluation project to look at the differences in antipsychotic prescribing between different levels of security.
I have also used my special interest session to study towards an MSc in Forensic Criminology at the Sheffield Hallam University.
Owing to an interest in Intellectual Disability I arranged to spend one day every two weeks with the Medium Secure Intellectual Disability Service at Brooklands Hospital in Birmingham. I was able to work with patients in both the medium and low secure services as well as attend and contribute to the regular multidisciplinary team meeting. i plan to continue this special interest placement for a year and hope to get involved in assessing patients that have been referred to the service.