Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

New autism training programmes for psychiatrists launched by Health Education England

Health Education England has commissioned two autism training programmes for psychiatrists, which they hope will help prevent unnecessary admissions to mental health hospitals.

Autistic people can experience more mental health issues than the general population, and may be seen in community mental health teams, older adult services, or forensic teams by a psychiatrist, who, in many cases will have received little additional specialist training in autism.

The workforce development programme has been co-designed and is co-delivered by autistic people and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. They will launch the first of two training courses on 16 March 2023 with 650 doctors enrolled. The two-year programme will train 1350 across England by the end of 2024.

The programme will encompass two separate pathways that address the different needs of psychiatrists who either:-

  • Work in general settings where they will support autistic people with a range of mental health issues, or,
  • Work in highly specialist autism teams and will support autistic people with complex and overlapping needs providing clinical leadership and shape service development

Both training offers build and complement on existing psychiatry and Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training. They are role specific and will focus on the delivery of national core competencies for autism that are of particular relevance to the provision of psychiatry support in general and specialist autism settings.

Expertise to design and lead specialist autism services in the future

Professor Ashok Roy, Clinical Lead for the National Learning Disabilities and Autism Programme at HEE, said: “We are delighted to be able to launch this important national training programme for psychiatrists. The provision of training for these doctors across a wide range of settings will help play a significant role in preventing unnecessary admissions to mental health hospitals for autistic people.

“In addition, by offering an enhanced skills development programme for psychiatrists and higher trainees who are wishing to develop specialist skills, we are investing in our workforce to ensure there is sufficient expertise to design and lead specialist autism services in the future”.

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