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Promoting Excellence In Psychological Health & Wellbeing

New Roles, Expansion and meeting the NHS LTP

16 Jul

We need to rapidly expand access to and choice of evidence based psychological approaches and interventions.  The NHS Long Term Plan identifies this ambition and there are range of expansion requirements to increase the workforce across a range of specialties. Within mental health services there are specific expansion programmes, seeking to grow the multi-disciplinary workforce there by 27,000 staff.

Since 2008, a number of new roles have emerged which represent innovative ways of meeting the demand for psychological work.  Often these have been entry level or practitioner roles.  They have often been focused at working with different populations or within different specialty areas. 

What these roles have in common is the aim of increasing the psychological input available in a specific setting – whether in primary care, inpatient services, community mental health, children’s services and so on.  Where they differ is in the type of qualification and the training content which also leads to differences in the approaches available.

Given that this can be a confusing landscape, it’s helpful to highlight some of the key similarities and differences between these roles.  It is beyond the scope of this briefing to describe these in detail.  However, the newer practitioner level and entry level roles that have emerged over the past twelve years are briefly described in the table below:

Role

Qualification

Entry Level

Apprentice-ship

Salary on quali-fication

Population or specialty area

Current position

Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner

Graduate Certificate / PG Certificate

Under-graduate or post-graduate routes available

Yes (alongside standard route)

Band 5

Adult – Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services

National rollout

Children & Young People’s Wellbeing Practitioner

Graduate Certificate / PG Certificate /

Under-graduate or post-graduate routes available

No

Band 5

Children’s services

National rollout

Educational Mental Health Practitioner

Graduate Certificate / PG Diploma

Under-graduate or post-graduate routes available

No

Band 5

Mental Health Support Teams (Education Settings)

National rollout

Clinical Associate in Psychology (CAPs)

Masters

Degree in Psychology

Yes

Band 6 but subject to review

Depending on setting of apprenticeship e.g. child, adult in-patient

Employer led trailblazer with adoption in some regions

Associate Psychological Practitioner (APPs)

PG Diploma

Degree in Psychology

No

Band 5

Depending on deployment e.g. physical health, mental health, primary care

Pilot project in the North West Coast

Mental Health and Wellbeing Practitioner (MHWP)

Graduate Certificate / PG Certificate /

Under-graduate or post-graduate routes available

No

Band 5

Adult community mental health (secondary care)

National rollout planned

These new roles, alongside other multi-professional ‘new’ roles such as Nursing Associates, Assistant Practitioners, Physician Associates and Peer Support Workers all seek to meet the demands for expansion and access within the NHS LTP.  They have emerged from specific pathway approaches or programmes to meet gaps in provider services.  This disruptive innovation can be confusing but does provide opportunities to evaluate what can work effectively.  This will be subject to both national drivers and local variations in needs.  The challenges for the psychological professions are to enable our collective identity and psychological work to be enhanced by the new roles, and for them to be deployed in synergy with each other, and alongside other roles in multi-disciplinary teams. 

The aim of the Psychological Professions Network is to inform, enable and influence NHS commissioned healthcare to maximise the benefits of the psychological professions to the public.   We do this by engaging and connecting together; providing advice to policy-makers, workforce planners and commissioners to support the safe and effective expansion of our professions (e.g. to provide advice to the National Psychological Professions Workforce Group).  The health and care system will need to understand and evaluate the range of newer psychological practitioner roles and how these fit together to make the best offer for the public. We don’t expect this will be a simple process, and it may take time. But we believe that by working together with the common commitment to being a united but diverse group we can improve the service offer to the public.

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