Promoting Excellence In Psychological Health & Wellbeing

Systems Leadership: Expansion of Psychological Professions Networks (PPN) Across 7 Regions

30 Aug 21

August 2021 Briefing


The Psychological Professions Vision for England, 2021-2024 includes Leadership as an enabling workforce work stream.  Within this, there is a need to ensure that the leadership of the psychological professions is joined up and supports professional leadership into local providers, local systems and links to the national workforce. The development of the PPNs across England is a key component of this.

The PPN first developed in the North West of England in 2014 supported by Health Education England (HEE) in the North West.  This was followed in 2017 by the South East, with the South West launching in 2019.  In 2020-2022, national spending review investment has enabled the initial set up of the PPN in the Midlands, North East & Yorkshire, London and the East of England. 

The PPN engages practitioners, and connects them directly to policy delivery objectives by acting as a free membership network for all psychological professionals and other stakeholders in NHS commissioned psychological healthcare. This supports the provision of coherent and informed high quality advice to policy-makers, workforce planners and commissioners.   This supports the safe and effective expansion of the existing and new psychological professions.

Each regional PPN is accountable to the HEE Regional mental health lead, and to a PPN England Board Co-Chaired by the National Lead for Psychological Professions and the National PPN Development Lead.

How do the PPNs work?

Each regional PPN has an annual work plan jointly agreed between the regional HEE office and the PPN England Board. These reflect both regional and national priorities and the level of maturity of each regional network. For the newest PPNs, objectives focus on the establishment of the network and engagement of members and stakeholders.  For the more established PPNs, objectives include leadership development, workforce mapping, support for national workforce initiatives and projects.  Each regional PPN provides quarterly reports to PPN England (as well as locally agreed reporting to HEE regional offices). This paper provides highlights from the most recent regional quarterly reports and linked them to the commitments and enablers in the Psychological Professions Vision for England, 2021-2024.

The work of the PPNs

Unite and Increase Diversity in the Psychological Professions

Structure and Governance, Communications and Membership

Each PPN has a chair or co-chair.  There are support functions which include programme managers, assistant psychologists and administrators. There are communications plans to support increased engagement and grow the membership.  There is good engagement between chairs and regional HEE offices. Each PPN has or is developing a steering group and a wider group to promote engagement and involvement of the twelve psychological professions and key stakeholders (including Experts by Experience). 

Total membership is currently around 7500. 

Transform and Innovate

The SW PPN have completed a workforce report detailing the PPs in the region. Click here to view the report. In the Midlands and London, the current workforce review and scoping is drawing on a range of data sources including WRES and an engagement survey (Midlands).  

Each region has developed or has in development communities of practice to support psychological professions. These include Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWPs) across most of the regions.  In addition, there are communities of practice for:

IAPT Leadership & Innovation (NW), Clinical Associate in Psychology (SW), Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy (EofE), New and Emerging Roles Forum (NW).  There is ongoing engagement with CPPOs in each region.

Workforce innovation and development also includes projects in the following areas:

  • Assistant Psychological Practitioner (medical settings) (SW)
  • New Roles for Psychology Graduates in Primary Care: Mental Health & Wellbeing Feasibility Study (NW)
  • Support Roles for Mental Health: Assistant Practitioners (NW in collaboration with the Mental Health Programme locally)

Help Our Communities to Thrive

The Midlands and London have supported developments for aspiring psychological professionals.  The South East is scoping out options for widening participation.  An EDI strategy for the PPN is under development through collaboration between the regional PPNs.

The PWP Apprenticeship Foundation Programme is under development in the SE. 

The career map phase 2 work is underway focusing on creating animated video content and alignment with NHS careers (SE). Promotion of psychological professions careers continues via contributions to careers events opportunistically (NW, SE).

Make all health and care psychological

The PPNs have provided a professional advisory role to the regional HEE offices in the distribution of funding to the three national development schemes (funded training places on the qualifying course for Systemic and Family Psychotherapy; Paid work experience for disadvantaged aspiring Psychological Professionals; and funded leadership mentoring for minority ethnic Psychological Professionals). 

The Place Based Mental Health Learning for GP Trainees (NW) project focused on developing a toolkit to support mental health learning for GP trainees to increase their skills in primary care mental health.  The project has developed guidance and an operational framework for access to primary care mental health experience for GP trainees. The second phase of the project will focusing on scaling up and engagement with other regions (interest from EofE).

Put People First

All PPNs have Expert by Experience (EbE) plans in place.  Recruitment of EbEs has taken place in most regions with development underway in the newer regions.  Challenges include a consistent approach to payment and expenses given the diversity within hosting arrangements and organisational policies.


The PPN Midlands 1st Birthday event has been scheduled for 22nd September 2021

PPN Conference Week 2021 will take place during the week of 15th – 19th November 2021

Regional PPN contribution to national projects/work streams

Currently, regional PPNs are supporting the Psychological Practice in Physical Health Care Expert Advisory Group (Midlands), Public Understanding of the Psychological Professions (EofE), the portfolio pilot of Advanced Clinical Practice in the Psychological Professions (NW).

Gita Bhutani

National PPN Development Lead

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