Northern Ireland has one APT post which is advertised locally. A 30 minute interview is held with the RAPM and two other Consultants on a best mark system, each interviewer will ask 2 questions.
Dr Gerry Browne's article on Pain Medicine training Northern Ireland was published in the Autumn 2013 edition of Transmitter. You can read the article below.
Go west young man. Go west!
Northern Ireland is the smallest of the regions in the United Kingdom. Due to our location you have to fly, sail or swim to reach our shores. At our widest we stretch for 110 miles, maximal elongation is 80 miles measuring just 5400 square miles in total. It is however well worth the journey - just ask the G8 summiteers - they came this year amid great fanfare to County Fermanagh.
There are many local treasures including the North Antrim coast, the Giant’s Causeway, Titanic Quarter and this year’s City of Culture - Derry/Londonderry.
The population of Northern Ireland is 1,800,000 (2011 census) and we have apparently the highest incidence of chronic pain in the UK at approximately 19% of the adult population. We number 16 Consultants who provide pain services, the vast majority retaining some anaesthetic sessions. As well as RAPM (me!) there are four appointed LMES - most of us are “home grown” but we have colleagues from further afield.
Our School of Anaesthesia is very supportive of chronic pain as a speciality encouraging those who wish to undertake HPT along with our allocation of one APT placement per annum. We encourage our advanced trainees to look for further training opportunities across the UK either as day release or as a short attachment and would welcome the possibility of “exchange fellows”.
At present we have no formal basic pain research but maintain local audits and projects. There is an MSc in Pain Management at Queen’s University, Belfast. In addition, active participation and feedback continues between Pain Consultants and patients via PANI (Pain Association of Northern Ireland). We currently do not have PCTs but are managed by five Trusts notionally divided across four board areas.
There is a vibrant local multidisciplinary pain society - Northern Ireland Pain Society (NIPS) which holds regular meetings during term-time and an annual study day.
Geographically our closest academic link is with the Irish Faculty of Pain Medicine, many of our Consultants being founding fellows. I am an elected member of the faculty board. Some of the preparation of this article was conducted on the two hour train journey linking Belfast and Dublin.
The Irish Pain Faculty annual scientific meeting attracting world class speakers is within easy reach and in February 2014 will hold a joint meeting with NSUKI - a definite date for any calendar. We also have had and will further explore joint meetings with our colleagues in the west of Scotland.
In the near future the amalgamation of three Pain Clinics in Belfast will be completed and should then provide for the purposes of training the Pain Fellow and higher trainees, a hub with spokes radiating to other Pain Clinics thus further improving our multidisciplinary approach to chronic pain.
Whilst not wishing to single out any individual it would be remiss not to congratulate Dr William Campbell current President of the British Pain Society who has been active with NIPS since its inception and is responsible for its logo (visible on some notepaper and ties of a certain vintage).
In summary we are a small (growing) band of dedicated pain practitioners - keen to educate and be educated and like our ex-world boxing champion “The Pocket Rocket”, we pack a strong pain punch.