Intellectual Disability Specialty Training Programme

Learning Disability Psychiatry is a unique medical speciality, affording the opportunity to make a very positive difference to the lives of people with learning disabilities and those in their network. The multidisciplinary nature of the work is particularly stimulating. The many and truly varied biopsychosocial opportunities to influence positive change are a source of constant interest.

NHS England Thames Valley and its School of Psychiatry have a long track record of ensuring high standards of training. Supervisors and Tutors contribute to a truly collegiate network of educators, ensuring each scheme and its trainees get the full support of the wider system.

The Thames Valley Programme in Learning Disability Psychiatry is a small but well established scheme. For almost three decades it has worked hard to give due attention not only to Trainees educational needs but also to work life balance and future career aspirations.

We have four Trainers at present.

Two posts are in Oxfordshire (Banbury and Abingdon) and Three in Buckinghamshire (Aylesbury, Chiltern and South Buckinghamshire and High Wycombe), in addition to one post in Berkshire.

The ‘Transforming Care’ agenda is a key driver of local service development in Learning Disabilities. 

The fact that Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire services are run by different Trusts (Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, respectively) with different local commissioning arrangements, means that Trainees have the opportunity to experience working in services which have developed their own local response to national policy.

Five posts are located in specialist Community Learning Disability Teams, and one post has in patient opportunities (Berkshire). The combination of relatively small caseloads, close support and supervision (providing both pastoral and supervisory elements) means that not only do Trainees have the opportunity to make the most of their core training posts but that they can also can exploit the wider variety of experiences available for ‘special interests’.

The uptake of protected special interest sessions is actively encouraged (undergraduate as well as postgraduate teaching, management, research, Child and Adolescent LD, Forensic LD, Psychotherapy, Epilepsy and Neuropsychiatry) and the new Junior Doctors Contract only serves to support this as well as to protect other educational opportunities.

There are further opportunities to support people with learning disabilities at greatest need remains by way of routine work with Intensive Support Teams, special interest sessions in inpatient services (including a medium secure LD unit in Oxford), reviewing patients ‘in out of county’ placements and even, in special circumstances, by way of ‘Out of Programme’ experiences.

Each Trainee has a combined Educational and Clinical Supervisor for the 12 months of the rotation. Caseload numbers are relatively low (15-20 on average) to ensure the ability to focus not only on delivering excellent clinical care but also on development opportunities for the trainees (and the need to document these clearly in work place based assessments via reflective practice). 

Weekly Consultant Psychiatric Supervision, a monthly Academic Programme, a Learning Disability Balint Group, a wide range of special interest opportunities as well as opportunities for rich peer networking, ensures an excellent training experience, one which trainees are encouraged to make the most of.

The programme is committed to work with Trainees and other stakeholders to improve the training experience, and the small nature of rotation affords opportunities for regular dialogue between the Training Programme Director and Trainees regards this agenda.

Training Sites

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust

·       DME – Alastair Reid –

·       Training Programme Director – Rajnish Attavar  –

 Main sites:

·       Samuelson House, Banbury
·       South Oxfordshire Community Learning Disability Team, Abbey House, Abbey Close, Abingdon, OX14 3JD


Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (Learning Disability posts only).

·       DME – Kunle Ashaye –
·       Training Programme Director – Rajnish Attavar  –

In-patient opportunity at Prospect Park Hospital Berkshire.

What our recent trainees are saying about the programme?

“My name is Farshad. I am currently a community consultant in West Berkshire. I did my higher training at Oxford scheme between 2013-2016. During my training with the scheme, I had the benefit of having supportive supervisors who not only gave me a balanced responsibility and authority to put my clinical skills to the test, but also proactively encouraged me to be innovative and ambitious. They helped me to pursue my interest in medical education and complete a postgraduate diploma in teaching and leadership with University of Oxford. I also truly enjoyed and benefitted from my weekly supervisions where we discussed important topics such as coaching, mentoring, interview skills and conflict resolution as well as the clinical issues. I was also supported to have an acting up job which probably has been the best opportunity to prepare me for taking up my consultant role.”