The clinical placements for forensic specialty trainees are based in 2 NHS Trusts: Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Collectively these diverse services provide a really broad training experience of different models of inpatient and outpatient forensic care for patients with a range of needs.
In Birmingham the longest established forensic service is at Reaside Clinic in Rubery, south Birmingham, which opened in 1987 and currently provides 92 beds for male patients in medium secure conditions. Nearby is Hillis Lodge, a 12 bedded low secure step-down rehabilitation service for men. The Tamarind Centre, which opened in the Bordesley Green area of the city in 2012, provides 89 male medium secure beds, including a unit for patient who require long term inpatient secure care and a service for patients who have personality disorder as well as mental illness. Finally, Ardenleigh, in Erdington to the north of Birmingham city centre, encompasses a 30 bed medium secure service for women, as well as a 20 bedded medium secure forensic child and adolescent service.
Currently there are 3 placements for advanced training at Reaside Clinic, 3 placements at the Tamarind Centre and 1 placement working across both hospitals. There is 1 placement in the women’s service at Ardenleigh and 1 placement at Hillis Lodge.
Staffordshire & Shropshire
The Hatherton Centre in Stafford is a 45 bedded medium secure hospital for men. The Clee Unit is in Shrewsbury and consists of Willow, a 20 bedded low secure rehabilitation service and Yew, a 12 bedded acute low secure service.
There are 4 training placements at the Hatherton Centre.
High Secure Experience
The forensic curriculum requires trainees to develop competencies in relation to the full range of secure levels, including high security. There are 3 high secure hospitals in England - Broadmoor, Ashworth and Rampton Hospitals. While working within the medium secure and low secure services in the West Midlands, trainees will be exposed to high secure conditions periodically. But it is generally necessary also to spend some time working in a high secure setting. As none of the 3 high secure hospitals are in the West Midlands, our trainees can make arrangements to attend whichever best meets their needs, offering great choice and flexibility. Most trainees spend around 6 weeks working in high security, either as a single block or on a specified number of days a week.
While the local Trusts are supportive of trainees taking up these opportunities, which are a key part of training, these placements do take you away from your designated post so they do need to be planned well in advance. Early discussions with your clinical supervisor will help to ensure that arrangements for covering your clinical work can be put in place.
Where will I work?
The usual length of training is the equivalent 3 years full-time training. Most trainees will work in both provider Trusts during the course of their higher training rotation, typically spending 2 years in BSMHFT and 1 year in SSSFT.
Most placements are 12 months long. Some, particularly in more specialised areas, are for 6 months. But this is flexible, depending on the needs of each cohort of trainees. Your first placement will be decided by the Training Programme Director. Thereafter, you will be expected to discuss your developing training needs with the TPD and give preferences for future placements. The size and flexibility of the training scheme means that it is very unusual for a trainee not to be able to be able to get the specific experiences that they want at some stage.
At the end of 3 years, if you have made satisfactory progress and have achieved the required competencies, you will receive a CCT in forensic psychiatry. Thereafter you will be eligible for up to 6 months further employment within the clinical placements of the scheme – the so-called “period of grace”.