Faculty of Forensic Psychiatry – does it matter?

Faculty of Forensic Psychiatry – does it matter?

November 23, 2015

The Faculty of Forensic Psychiatry on the face of it, formally acknowledges that the work done by psychiatrists treating mentally ill offenders and those doing civil assessments constitutes a subspecialty. It is an odd subspecialty because court appearances are the only thing these two groups have in common. Furthermore there are state funded training programs in criminal forensic psychiatry with due recognition but there are no formalised training programs for psychiatrist doing civil assessments. We now have the odd situation where all those who are members of the former section have been grandfathered in as Fellows of the Faculty of Forensic Psychiatry but the only pathway to Fellowship now is through a training program and hence any newcomers involved in civil assessment can no longer become full members of the Faculty.

This was highlighted for me by the recent joint meeting with ANZAPPL that I did not attend because there were no sessions of any relevance to the work that I do. I wrote a letter of complaint to Ness McVie, the chair of the Faculty who provided a belated response, amongst other things she wrote “I have forwarded it to Sophie Davison, convenor of the 2016 FFP conference for consideration. From the conference perspective, it would be best if a suitable keynote could be suggested. I suspect this may be too late for 2016 though nothing formal planned for 2017 yet”.

I found this astonishing, an annual meeting of my faculty does not include any sessions relevant to the work that I do and will not have one in 2016 but may have one for 2017.

I was beginning to get heated about it until I began ruminating about whether or not it actually mattered. In one sense it is useful to have an opportunity to discuss the issues we face in common, to share ideas and to look at interaction with the court system and the legal profession. On the other hand, on a day-to-day basis it doesn’t matter a scrap. I have never been asked in court as to whether or not I am a Fellow of the Faculty of Forensic Psychiatry and I doubt whether anybody in the court room would know that it exists.

Increasingly I feel that the Faculty of Forensic Psychiatry has been hijacked to the exclusion of those of us who do civil assessments and I see no change occurring in the foreseeable future. Maybe it is time we start looking at setting up a Section of Civil Forensic Psychiatry and go our own way?


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