Memories of the early days of the EFPT
I got involved in the early days of the EFPT by accident. I was elected as a regional representative from the North of England to the Royal College of Psychiatrists Trainees Committee in 1993. At my first meeting, elections were held for various bodies, one of which was for the European Forum for Psychiatric Trainees as the previous representatives had left the committee. When no-one else expressed any interest I put my name forward and was elected unopposed! This really demonstrated the ambivalence that the UK had towards the EFPT in the early days: I was the first UK citizen to represent the UK at the EFPT!
I attended my first forum in April 1994 in Cork, Ireland, the second formal meeting of the organisation. This meeting was preoccupied with the constitution of the organisation – who could attend and so on. The forum agreed to seek representation from representative organisations of psychiatric trainees in European countries and to promote the development of those organisations. The annual meeting would aim to produce consensus statements on training issues and to promote the views of trainees to relevant international bodies.
I attended subsequent forum meetings in Copenhagen (1995), Lisbon (1996) and Athens (1997) by which time I had become the Chair of the UK Psychiatric Trainees Committee. The same year I completed my psychiatric training and took up a job as a consultant psychiatrist in Newcastle upon Tyne. However I got invited back the following year to speak in Antwerp at the first symposium the EFPT organised. I also spoke on the history of the EFPT at the Berlin symposium in 2000. Each forum had its own character, shaped by the host country and their trainees. With English being the language of the forum, it often felt like the UK delegates were there to act as mediators to resolve linguistic conflicts and ensure statements stated precisely what was intended.
My interest in training has been sustained over the years and I put my EFPT experience as a major factor in that. I moved to a new consultant post in Middlesbrough in 2001 and I was the Director of Medical Education for the hospital trust I work for from 2003 until just recently. I am still active in the Royal College of Psychiatrist and I am currently the treasurer of the Faculty of General & Community Psychiatry.
Dr Lenny Cornwall