Encouraging Junior Doctors in Mental Health Care

Trust leads the way in providing practical experience

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West London Mental Health NHS Trust is leading the way in helping medical graduates get first-hand experience of caring for patients with mental health problems.

Working closely with Ealing Hospital and the North West Thames Foundation Programme, the trust has created three new house officer posts, which will be based on the Ealing Hospital site, allowing junior doctors to gain experience of caring for people whose needs include mental health care as well as more traditional placements in acute medical or surgical care. With the additional three placements coming on line in August, the trust will have a total of four house officers – the other is based in the West Middlesex University Hospital Liaison Service.

This forms part of the wider “Broadening the Foundation Programme” – a national initiative, endorsed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, aimed at supporting more newly qualified medical trainees to get experience of caring for patients with mental health illness.  In 2012 only six per cent of first year medical graduates in spent time in full time psychiatric placements1 even though mental health problems account for 22.8 per cent of disease burden in the UK2. Health Education England is hoping that initiatives like this one will address this discrepancy.

Consultant liaison psychiatrist in the trust, Dr Christopher Hilton, explained: “We have worked with Ealing Hospital to introduce these three new four-month posts which will fully integrate mental health work into year long rotations for nine junior doctors over the first year. The trainees will be based in our liaison psychiatry, acute mental health inpatient and older adult mental health inpatient settings.  This is an important opportunity for current mental health professionals to educate future colleagues about psychiatry and the pathways of care for patients with mental health problems.  It will also lead to greater awareness of the need for parity of esteem for patients with mental health problems to ensure that they too have equal access to other clinical support to improve their overall quality of life and wellbeing.”

Dr Hilton added: “We hope these new positions will provide fantastic opportunities for us to improve holistic care for our patients while giving trainee medics exposure and a greater understanding of mental health issues.”


August 7, 2014

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