Core Psychiatry

Welcome to the KSS School of Psychiatry core training programme. This programme is led by Dr Julian Henry and Dr Michele Travers, core Training Programme Directors (TPDs). To find out more about their roles, please visit the meet the team webpage.

In KSS there are three core psychiatry training programmes which are based in each of the three mental health trusts. In addition to general psychiatry and older adult psychiatry, the 57 core training KSS posts offer placements in liaison, forensics, child and adolescent, learning disability, eating disorders, rehabilitation, early intervention, psychiatric intensive care, substance misuse, perinatal psychiatry, and psychotherapy.

Core psychiatry support

By centring the core programme in one trust the doctors in training are consistently supported by the local postgraduate medical centres, Directors of Medical Education (DMEs), TPDs and core trainee representatives throughout their training experience. To find out more about the core psychiatry trainee representatives, please visit the Psychiatry trainee rep webpage.

In addition, the core training programme have locality tutors who provide local advice and support and manage the local education programme. There are also trust leads for simulation, medical humanities and leadership, offering opportunities in quality improvement projects and audit.


In CT1 and CT2, core psychiatry trainees attend the MRCPsych Course at the Sussex Education Centre in Mill View Hospital, Hove. In CT3, study leave support can be more individually-tailored. Although placements are across the whole county, with rotation to different localities, doctors can include geographical convenience within their post-preferencing.

The core psychiatry curriculum and further detailed information can be accessed via the Royal College of Psychiatrists curricula webpage.

Where do core psychiatry trainees train?

Core psychiatry trainees will train at one of the three mental health trusts in KSS throughout their training programme. The three mental health trusts in KSS are:

  • Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust
  • Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

To find out more about each training location, please visit the Local Education Provider webpage.

Psychotherapy in core training

Each Trust provides the required psychotherapy training through each stage. Psychotherapy tutors are introduced at Trust induction and supervise the allocation and completion of the psychotherapy modalities, beginning with experience in Balint groups (usually including Foundation and GP doctors). 

Colleagues in Psychology departments supervise and sign off treating patients in cognitive-behavioural therapies (the “short case”) usually preceding experience of treating a “long case” in psychodynamic and cognitive-analytic approaches.

While signed-off participation in the Balint groups is a prerequisite of going on to provide individual therapy, core psychiatry doctors are strongly advised to liaise early with the Psychotherapy tutors and to keep the Psychotherapy training well on track over the three years of Core training, to ensure that it is completed in time.

To find out more about the psychotherapy experience and competencies, please visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists supporting trainee with psychotherapy webpage.

Exams and MRCPsych courses

The MRCPsych courses and examinations are a key part of training progress, and an exit criterion for the move on to higher specialty training. Visit the KSS MRCPsych courses webpage to find out more.

Doctors in core psychiatry training should aim to sit each exam at an early opportunity, starting in the CT1 year. Although this is easy to say, and seems daunting, it will avoid pressures later in core training.

Written papers A and B

CT1 doctors can sit the written exams immediately, in either order.

The Clinical Assessment of Skills and Competencies (CASC) exam

The CASC exam can be taken after 24 months of training, and a pass achieved in Papers A and B. The dates and results of exams are automatically entered in the ePortfolio by the College, although this has broken down previously, so this should be checked, and attempts and passes evidenced in the ePortfolio.

Examinations dates

The full exam timetable and application window is available on the Royal College of Psychiatrists website. To contact the Royal College of Psychiatrists examinations unit, please visit their examinations contact us webpage.

Study Leave after the years one and two courses in CT3

One advantage of attempting and passing the MRCPsych papers and CASC as early as possible is that personal study leave can be planned during the CT3 year, as part of a Personal Development Plan (PDP) agreed in discussion in educational supervision.

Time away from specialty training

For any of several reasons, doctors may elect not to go straight into higher specialty training after completing core training (which may include not completing all the MRCPsych exams). You are advised to continue CPD relevant to future plans in any service job, recording and labelling this to be easily (and logically) uploaded into a future ST4 ePortfolio.

This evidence might be called-on earlier than the first ST4 Interim Review or ARCP (for instance in applying for Section 12 approval, or in the first educational supervision meetings planning a PDP).

Transfer between core training programmes

Trainees in the core psychiatry programmes may occasionally wish to transfer between programmes (and counties or trusts). We are happy to facilitate this, where reasons are clear, and there are available vacancies (unless this skews the distribution of doctors across the programmes excessively).

Transfer will normally be supported after a first year in the initial Trust placements, and good progress in training confirmed at ARCP. Urgent requests, or ones outside these guidelines, can be considered on an individual basis between the TPDs and DMEs.

Doctors transferring need to consider that specialist experience in the new programme may be booked up e.g. for child and adolescent/developmental experience.  Although the transfer may help with travel and domestic arrangements, rotation in the new programme will potentially be across the whole of the new county. Requests to change programmes should come to TPDs, DMEs, Medical Education Managers and the School, comfortably in advance of the recruiting episodes in October and February, as numbers for recruitment are fixed then and vacancies hopefully filled.

Interdeanery Transfers (IDT)

Any transfers from KSS to another Deanery requires a formal process, detailed as per FAQs found in the London and South East support portal

The window for IDT applications is given in the yearly timeline. IDT transfers in this window will be possible after at least nine months in training, and when at least 12 months remain in training (i.e. calendar months, not WTE months for Less Than Full Time doctors). In England, transfer remains possible after an Outcome 2 or 3 at ARCP, with Postgraduate Dean permission.