Recruitment is under way this month to 100 new NHS trainee associate psychological practitioner posts in the North West, thanks to £1.3m extra funding for the region.
The role provides a new career gateway for psychology graduates and will help to tackle a shortage of psychological professionals in the NHS.
It follows a pilot cohort of 50 trainee associate psychological practitioners (TAPPs) in hospitals, community and primary care networks in the North West Coast, leading to qualification as associate psychological practitioners (APPs).
After the success of the first TAPPs, a second wave of recruitment will start across the North West in the week starting 22 November, with 75 to 100 posts available in primary and secondary care.
The initiative is helping to address the shortages of mental health practitioners, while providing a much-needed graduate pathway for psychology professionals.
The project has been led by the Innovation Agency and funded by Health Education England, with recruitment through Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust. The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) is delivering training towards a new Postgraduate Diploma Associate Practitioner Psychologist (PGDip APP).
TAPP Natalia Laverty-Baralle was working as a researcher in her home town of Southampton when she successfully applied to take up the new role in Lytham St Annes Primary Care Network.
She said: “There is a shortage of psychologists and yet it is incredibly competitive and difficult to get onto that career path; this was a great opportunity because it is a post graduate role and there is a permanent job as associate psychology practitioner at the end of it.
“Becoming a TAPP is giving me great experience, working with all ages, either one to one or going out to community settings to talk about mental wellbeing. I love the variety and after the community sessions I’m always surprised by the feedback which is really positive; it is nice to be able to have an impact.”
Consultant Clinical Psychologist Dr Miranda Budd, who is the Clinical Lead for the TAPPs in Primary Care Networks, said: “I’m so pleased this extra funding has been agreed. Every week I hear great examples of how the TAPPs are helping people learn skills to manage their mental health, reduce distress and improve resiliency. It feels like a really worthwhile project to be part of.”
Innovation Agency Director of System Partnerships Carole Spencer said: “There are staff shortages throughout the NHS, yet we know there are psychology students graduating each year who want to join the NHS and struggle to find their way in.
“Psychology is one of the most popular and largest undergraduate degree subjects and the creation of a foundation training year will make it easier to match talented students with the services and patients who need them.”
UCLan joint course director Mark Roy said: “With such a rich seam of talent among psychology graduates the APP training has the opportunity to overcome the barriers to redressing the shortages in the NHS psychological workforce. We have learnt so much from our first cohort, who have fulfilled our dreams of making a difference across a wide range of services.
“With our second cohort we are demonstrating that what we have achieved can be done at scale, and that the excitement among NHS services across the North West is spreading further afield.”
Trainee associate psychological practitioners will be appointed on one-year training contracts to deliver psychological service input in a supervised role across a range of services from adult mental health, through primary care and health psychology.
The posts will be advertised by a range of NHS employers in the North West via www.jobs.nhs.uk and appointments will come with a registration on the PGDipAPP course at UCLan, starting in March 2022.
Salaries are funded by the employing organisation, with funding from Health Education England covering the academic programme, supervision and support costs. TAPPs will be paid at NHS band 4 and on qualification will be recruited to substantive posts at band 5.