Dr. Cosmo Hallström qualified in medicine with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MB, ChB) degree from the University of Liverpool Medical School in 1971. He then underwent a period of higher training in both General Medicine and Psychiatry, initially attached to training schemes at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and later the Maudsley. He became a Member of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP(UK)) by examination in 1975, and a Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (MRCPsych) in 1976. He also obtained a conjoined Diploma in Psychological Medicine (DPM) in 1975. He was later elected to fellowships of The Royal Colleges of Psychiatrists and Physicians.
Having undergone specialist training as both a physician and a psychiatrist, he continued his studies at the Institute of Psychiatry for two years, where he undertook research in the area of Psychopharmacology, relating to psychopharmacology of mood disorders, with particular reference to the medical treatment of anxiety and the problems of tranquiliser dependence. He continued his academic studies for two years at the Rockland Research Institute, where he held a New York licence and was an Assistant Clinical Professor at New York University. His research work then continued on a part time basis as he combined both clinical and research work in parallel. His research studies resulted in the award of an MD, an academic degree (Higher Doctorate) from the University of Liverpool in 1989.
He was appointed a Consultant Psychiatrist at Charing Cross Hospital and a Senior Lecturer at Imperial College of Medicine in 1982, where he ran an inner-city psychiatric catchment area service, dealing with a broad spectrum of psychiatric disorders. He was also involved in the closure of two mental hospitals as part of the move to community care.
In parallel with his clinical duties, he was a Liaison Psychiatrist to the Department of Gastro-Enterology, which involved dealing with alcohol related disorders. He set up the country’s first NHS Tranquiliser Dependency Clinic and continued his academic work, both as a teacher and as a researcher, undertaking numerous clinical trials and writing over 100 scientific and academic papers. He lectured both nationally and internationally.
Having been a Consultant in the NHS for some thirteen years and witnessing the decline in clinical freedom and the quality of service delivery, he resigned from the NHS and joined the independent sector, initially at the Capio Clinic, where he became Medical Director of the unit in Chelsea, running an acute in-patient psychiatric unit providing services on contract to NHS patients. He continued to undertake clinical trials as Research Director for Feighner Research, and he continued to teach and write. He has more recently been in sole practice from his clinic in Chelsea, specialising in the treatment of emotional and mood disorders, offering second opinions in complex clinical matters and primarily providing expert witness reports.
Following the COVID pandemic Dr Hallstrom has given up his rooms in Chelsea and reduced his clinical commitments and now concentrated on civil and matrimonial medicolegal cases as well as assessments for Employment Tribunals.
He is no longer taking on new private patients, but continues to practice from Keats House in Central London.
Dr. Hallström finds himself particularly drawn to medico-legal work after being involved in the benzodiazepine mass action in the 1980s. He has written some 5,000 reports over the last thirty years. Whilst in recent years having been involved with the Family Courts and the Family Drug and Alcohol Team in particular, his expertise covers the spectrum of psychiatric disorders. He has been involved in numerous criminal cases, employment tribunals, personal injury, medical negligence and mental capacity assessments. He has a particular interest in problems associated with the effects and side effects of prescription medication and psychosomatic disorders, where his expertise both as a psychiatrist and a physician come into play. He has provided reports for the General Medical Council in fitness to practice hearings. His expertise ranges from organic and neuropsychiatric areas through mental illness to personality disorders and their interactions with physical illness. He tends to be instructed by claimants and defendants in approximately equal proportions with a number of joint instructions as well. Dr. Hallström is aware that he is acting for the court when giving his opinions.
Dr. Hallström has over the years evolved from being a Physician and Psychiatrist with a predominantly organic, neuropsychiatric and pharmacological approach to therapy to someone with a much broader psychological based approach to treatment. Whilst Dr. Hallström has an eclectic view, his approach remains primarily in the medical model. He usually works together with psychological therapists to supplement his therapeutic input, as appropriate. His approach is to use the most appropriate treatment to suit the patient’s needs, believing that flexibility in adaptation to situations after a full assessment is all important.
As a Physician by training, Dr. Hallström was awarded the FRCP. He has always taken a keen interest in the relationship between physical illness and psychiatric illness and has a particular interest in “abnormal illness behaviour”, such as somatisation syndromes and Somatic Symptom Disorders, which can range from psychological manifestations of physical illness to the other end of the spectrum, with factitious disorders and Munchausen’s Syndrome.
Whilst not a formally trained drug addiction specialist, Dr. Hallström has a research degree relating to benzodiazepine dependency. He has, over the last fifteen years, assessed and been involved in the treatment of numerous opiate and cocaine addicts and alcoholics and has developed an expertise in that area, whilst retaining his primary orientation as a general Adult Psychiatrist. He has been the psychiatrist appointed to several Family Drug and Alcohol Court Teams in assisting the courts evaluate parental alcohol and substance misusers.