Consultant clinical psychologist

Claire CoplandClaire Copland
Consultant Clinical Psychologist , joined the Trust in 2007

What is your role?

I work within the St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Chronic Pain Service as a Clinical Psychologist specialising in pain management for patients at the Wolfson Neurorehabilitation Centre, which is part of St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

I am the clinical lead for the Wolfson Pain Management Programme (PMP). The Wolfson PMP is a three-week intensive group programme for people with long-term pain where further medical treatment is not appropriate. The programme is based on cognitive behavioural principles and aims to teach people a range of strategies to help them manage their pain and associated problems more effectively. Attending a PMP will not offer a cure for the pain problem. However, the programme is designed to help people improve their physical function and quality of life and reduce emotional distress, despite ongoing pain.

Alongside the group based PMP, I also offer individual Clinical Psychology sessions for pain management for people who for one reason or another may not be suitable for our group based approach.

What does a typical working day look like?

My days tend to be quite varied and depend on the three week cycle of the PMP. Typically I will be involved in several group work sessions for the PMP and may have some individual appointments booked in as well. As clinical lead for the PMP, a proportion of my time is spent on service management and development issues. This can be anything from writing team policies or developing new session formats for the group to giving presentations to local GP’s on the service.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

There are many aspects of my job that I enjoy. Working as a Clinical Psychologist in pain management is very rewarding as with the right level of input people can really improve the way that they cope with chronic pain. It is fantastic to hear about the positive changes that people make to their lives as a result of attending the Chronic Pain Service. I also enjoy being part of a multidisciplinary team, working with colleagues from nursing and therapy. Particularly with a complex problem like chronic pain, you realise that a multidisciplinary team approach is vital.

It is very helpful to think about a patient’s difficulties from different perspectives. It is also great to have the support of other team members when working with challenging issues.

What level of patient contact do you have in your role?

I see patients everyday. It is the key part of my job.

What other members of the healthcare team do you work with?

On the PMP I work with a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, a nurse and a specialist therapy. During the course of my clinical work and with regards service management I also liaise closely with consultant anaesthetist colleagues in the Pain Clinic. From an administrator point of view, PMP service has a great medical secretary who manages to make everything run very smoothly for us.

What do you like about working for the Trust?

One of the reasons that I like working at the Wolfson is my colleagues on the PMP team. They are a fantastic bunch of people who are always willing to go the extra mile for patients and are constantly looking for ways in which we can improve the service. The team is also very supportive of each other and always ready to make a cup of hot chocolate for any team member who is having a bad day.

The Wolfson is also in a lovely position in Wimbledon. Patients often comment about the green and peaceful surroundings.

Why did you join the NHS?

Clinical Psychology training courses are funded by the NHS and when I finished training I felt that I wanted to ‘give something back’. I have worked in the NHS ever since and it is the fantastic colleagues that I hav