In 2016 it is 10 years since the Faculty of Forensic & Legal Medicine was established by the Royal College of Physicians. In that time there have been substantial changes to many of the roles that impact on the FFLM membership.
The FFLM has been at the leading edge of defining and raising standards and has produced much guidance and recommendations for the clinical and forensic aspects of police custodial healthcare and sexual assault referral centres, and indeed many FFLM members hold senior positions in organisations delivering these services to vulnerable patients. The medico-legal advisers’ role has advanced and consolidated in tandem with many of the regulatory changes affecting medical (and now nursing and paramedic) practitioners, such as appraisal and revalidation.
The role of the medical coroner has been, for the time, limited but the role of the coroner in relation to the work of the FFLM remains core. The FFLM awaits with interest and with a belief that it is needed, whether the proposed Medical Examiner system is implemented in England and Wales, in a similar manner to the Medical Reviewer system in Scotland.
The FFLM has worked closely with its parent College, the RCP, and other Colleges, including the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health developing and improving understanding and practice where these specialties interface. Other bodies such as the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the College of Policing, the UK Association of Forensic Nurses and the College of Paramedics are closely involved in many aspects of FFLM work.
The FFLM has developed a robust raft of examinations of equivalent stature to those of Royal Colleges in other specialties. The examinations embrace forensic and legal medicine, clinical and forensic aspects of sexual assault as well as human identification. Standards and examinations are being explored in other aspects of the work of FFLM members, including torture and forensic photography.
Arguably one of the most important tasks at the moment is that the FFLM is in the process, with the approval of the Department of Health, of applying for specialist recognition for forensic and legal medicine.
For many of us progress has been slower than we would have liked, but it is now clear that the FFLM is seen as the appropriate body from which guidance, advice and support on all matters of forensic and legal medicine should be sought.
In these challenging times the FFLM continues to be the central focus for raising standards in forensic and legal medicine and protecting vulnerable people who come into contact with the justice systems, in any setting.
We thank all our members, our professional colleagues, our Senior Officers and our Managers, past and present, for what has been achieved in the last decade.
We look forward to the next ten years.
Dr Jason Payne-James
FFLM Immediate Past President