15 March 2022

Associate Psychological Practitioners receive their certificates

The first cohort of graduates to complete a ground-breaking programme aimed at tackling a shortage of psychological professionals in the NHS received their certificates at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Led by the Innovation Agency, funded by Health Education England and with recruitment through Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, UCLan has also played a lead role in delivering training towards a new Postgraduate Diploma Associate Practitioner Psychologist (PGDip APP).

The pilot cohort of 50 Trainee Associate Psychological Practitioners (TAPPs) from hospitals, community and primary care networks in the North West, received their qualification certificates as Associate Psychological Practitioners (APPs).

The initiative is helping to plug the gap in shortages of mental health practitioners, while providing a much-needed graduate pathway for psychology professionals.

Following the presentation of certificates an evaluation report highlighting the programme’s positive impact was unveiled.

Naim Ismail, an Associate Psychological Practitioner working in East Burnley for Lancashire and South Cumbria Foundation Trust, said: “This novel initiative is a brilliant step-up for newly qualified psychology graduates and I’d recommend it as an initial stepping stone to those who aspire to a career in psychology.”

Associate Psychological Practitioner Amber Ahmed, who works for Lancashire and South Cumbria Foundation Trust, added: “Through a unique approach that combines clinical experience with psychological theory, I feel the course has increased my resilience, awareness and overall insight into mental health conditions and the impact these conditions have on people’s lives.

“At the same time, I feel fortunate to have witnessed first-hand the positive impact this role has had on the mental wellbeing of vulnerable people to live enriched lives through a difficult COVID climate.”

Innovation Agency System Partnerships Director Carole Spencer said: “It is fantastic to see the first cohort of trainees complete their course and be able to start in their careers in the NHS as Associate Psychological Practitioners. It’s great for the trainees; great for the NHS to expand workforce supply with these new roles; and ultimately great news for patients.

“I am delighted that our collaboration has led to this successful project – and that a second cohort will soon be undertaking the training, to take up posts in both primary and secondary care across the North West.”

The University’s joint course director Dr Mark Roy said: “The intention behind this programme has been to develop a new and sustainable supply of qualified practitioners into psychological roles and reduce the significant workforce gaps that exist in this area.

“Our first cohort of students have done exceptionally well. They have shown that not only is a 12-month educational training programme effective in developing professional and psychological competencies, but that TAPPs are highly valued members of the workforce.  They are positively impacting on patients through the provision of psychological support, improving patient wellbeing and indirectly reducing waiting lists.”

Dr Miranda Budd, Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Lancashire and South Cumbria Foundation Trust and Clinical Lead for TAPPs, said: “I feel so proud of all the APPs who have just qualified from the first cohort. I’ve worked closely with the 24 who worked in Primary Care Network settings and they have done a fantastic job. In just nine months, they’ve delivered one-to-one wellbeing sessions to over 1,000 individuals and over 1,200 people attended some of the wellbeing workshops delivered within local communities.

“I’m really looking forward to cohort two starting later this month and wish everyone who has completed their qualification and those about to begin, the very best for what I hope are long, successful and exciting careers ahead.”

The Postgraduate Diploma Associate Practitioner Psychologist programme is now being evaluated with a view to being extended nationally.

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