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Hundreds of psychiatrists to be upskilled in NHS autism training initiative.

28 March 2023

Hundreds of psychiatrists will be given the opportunity to improve their skills and knowledge about autism with two new training offers that have been commissioned by Health Education England.

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 includes a short foundation training course for psychiatrists working across a variety of settings, and a longer, more enhanced development course, aimed at psychiatrists and higher trainees who are seeking to increase their specialist knowledge and skills in autism.

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.

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”.

NHS England Director for Learning Disability and Autism, Tom Cahill, said: “The launch of the autism training programme for psychiatry is a significant milestone that reflects our continued commitment to supporting and caring for autistic people. 

“We want to ensure people working across the NHS and our colleagues in psychiatry have the opportunity to develop their specialist knowledge and skills in autism to help better support the needs and treatment of autistic people.”

For more information about the programme visit the Health Education England website here.